The Builder Magazine
August 1919 - Volume V - Number 8
PROGRESS OF THE MASONIC OVERSEAS MISSION
BY BRO. GEO. L. SCHOONOVER, P. G. M., IOWA
DECIDEDLY the most significant and far reaching occurrence of the conference at
Cedar Rapids was the report of the Overseas Mission in which Judge Scudder, a
Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, and a most scholarly and forward looking
brother, recited to those present the details of the negotiations with the government
looking to the fraternity being recognized as one of the official agencies engaged in
welfare work among the men of the army and navy overseas. The Masonry of the
United States was so recognized by the War Department, the activities in which it
proposed to engage were approved, and everything was apparently smooth in the
pathway of service along which we desired to travel, until some agency, not disclosed
by name in the report of the Overseas Mission, by some subterranean methods
blocked our way. No reasons were given which would stand the test of fair and
unbiased analysis. Certain officials stated that "the Masonic fraternity had been the
victim of a series of circumstances." The Mission was refused passports to go to
France and engage in this work as an independent, recognized agency.
After a series of long negotiations the Overseas Mission was accepted by the Y. M. C.
A. as a part of their welfare machine on foreign soil. They, too, approved the desire
and ambition expressed by our Mission, and passports were applied for by them for
our five Overseas Commissioners to go as Y. M. C. A. secretaries, the basis of their
work when they reached France having been mutually agreed upon.
The application for passports remained pigeonholed in Washington for seven weeks
without a reply. Then Judge Scudder, becoming somewhat impatient at the delay went
to Washington to ascertain the cause. He found that the passports were to be denied.
In making the application for passports, nothing of the intended puipose of the
Overseas Mission to engage in Masonic activities had been covered up everything was
frank and aboveboard. Without doubt it was for this reason that the applications were
held up, and were about to be refused. Judge Scudder had several copies of the
Overseas Mission's report with him, for by this time it had been distributed to the
several Grand Jurisdictions in printed form. He read considerable portions of it,
notably those which argued the case as it appeared to the Mission, to certain
governmental officials. The results followed one another with miraculous rapidity.
Within an hour from the time Judge Scudder had finished reading this report, the
passports were forthcoming, and the Mission was able to sail. In fact, so illuminating
had been the arguments and reasons set forth in support of our Masonic contentions
for practically a year and a half prior to that time, that the Mission was informed that
if it so desired it might sail as an independent agency, but because the Mission had
given its word to the Y. M. C. A., this opportunity could not, of course, be availed of.
To have done so would have meant to break faith q with the "Y."
The Overseas Mission sailed the week of February 6, 1919, more than a year and a
half after their original intention, and part of them returned to New York on May
5,1919. For the following summary of their findings and activities I am indebted to
Brother Scudder, chairman of the Mission, who recently made an exhaustive report at
the Grand Lodge of New York. Unfortunately I cannot now give this report in his own
language, and must for the sake of space summarize in a few paragraphs his most
illuminating survey of the conditions which they found and the steps which they took
to have Masonry play its part.
They knew the fraternity in America to be aggrieved because it had not been allowed
to participate as it had been promised that it should do, because that permission had
been in effect withdrawn. They only guessed that our soldier brethren on the other
side had longed for them to come, been disappointed that they did not come, and,
finally, felt that they had been neglected by Masonry. They had joined Masonry for its
high aspirations and ideals; they felt that these had not been lived up to, and so far as
their knowledge went in the premises, they could only feel that the neglect was due to
indifference. When, therefore, our Overseas Mission arrived in France they found our
boys in khaki cold. From their viewpoint it seemed that, the Mission having sailed
when the seas were safe, it was adding insult to the injury, or else gave ground for an
indictment of cowardice. They were homesick, these boys. They had had no Masonry
to lean upon except that of their own construction, and they were not in a mood to
come home and feel that the Masonry which they left behind was the same Masonry
that they had conceived it to be. The Mission found them filled with but one idea, that
of coming home, and they were coming sore at heart, disappointed, and critical of the
Despite the difficulties of travel, of delayed mails, of military discipline, of some
opposition in government circles, of convincing the overseas supervisors of the Y. M.
C. A. of the value of the work which the Mission had in view, they were able, after
five or six weeks of what seemed inconsequential accomplishment, to begin to make
some headway. In time they were able to reach the hearts of the boys and convince
them that the reason for Masonry's absence from the welfare activities on foreign soil
was not one of choice. They showed them how and why it had been deemed unwise
by some governmental officials to let us go, and that those officials seemed to have
the power to keep us at home. The overseas officials of the Y. M. C. A., at first
incredulous and skeptical, came after awhile to see that the proposed work was worth
while, and the attendance upon Masonic meetings which they finally permitted in the
" Y" huts generally proved to them the desire on the part of Masons for the Masonic
fellowship which had been theretofore denied them. The meetings became
enthusiastic. The clubs formed, and there were more than sixty of them, mounted to
thousands in membership, and the Masonic meetings taxed the capacity of the huts.
Once the Masons in khaki understood the story which the Mission had to tell, they
became once more the firm and enthusiastic and proud supporters of the Masonic
fraternity which they had been when at home. Once the Y. M. C. A. realized fully
how catering to the desire of Masons to meet upon the level helped to revive its own
usefulness in a considerable degree, they lent their full influence to these new and
long-denied activities. The personnel of the Mission was splendid. Their morale was
high, their self-sacrifice complete. Personal comforts they had none, but they carried
the great message of Masonry all over France and the occupied portion of Germany.
They went into Belgium and Flanders and Italy, likewise, and their reception was a
tribute indeed to the at last partially consummated desire of the Masons of America.
In a private interview, Judge Scudder gave his conclusions as to the value of the work,
somewhat after the following manner:
"It was pitiful to see how little the boys needed to make them happy. They organized
their clubs and did business, as a rule, as nearly in accordance with lodge practice as
they could. The very similarity of their meetings to those to which they were
accustomed in the lodges at home seemed to make them happy. Small entertainments
were sufficient. The opportunity for an unrestricted -Masonic fellowship was what
they craved. Gathered together from all quarters of the United States, they found
infinite joy in merely talking together, under the club auspices, and spent the next to
the last minute of their leave together in this way. All that was needed was a
semblance of the Masonic intercourse which they loved, and their hearts responded in
an atmosphere of fellowship which made the simplest kind of a meeting a unanimous
"We had some opposition at times much of it. But after the preliminary weeks of
waiting were over, we found that we had made some substantial progress toward the
perfection of our plans. We did not do what we had covenanted with the Y. M. C. A.
to do go over and assume responsibility for certain huts at our own expense, under
their supervision. We did not do it because we were asked not to do so. The "Y" found
in our plan of club co-ordination a wiser course, and were generous enough to accept
it, in fact to adopt it, and on their own motion, assume much of the expense of it,
because they found that it was a real addition to their own activities, and was helping
materially their own cause. They became convinced that the Masonic fraternal tie was
the strongest tie binding men of the fraternity together the best tie there is. At first
they witnessed our efforts with misgiving, but they became convinced, and were
finally so far won over as to feel that the adoption of our designs was a substantial
drawing card for them.
"This entire work was conducted in behalf of the Masonry of the United States. No
state in particular was mentioned. Every brother was welcomed, no matter where he
hailed from. And the Masonic soldiers are coming home, convinced that the fraternity
had a real desire to serve, that it was prevented from serving in the first instance by
opposition which was able to control the governmental policy. They are coming home
convinced of the good effects of the fraternity. They appreciate our stand in persisting
until we could get to them, even though we were compelled to forego our desire to do
so as an independent agency. Our fraternity will not be on the defensive before them
as they come back. They will not be bitter they will understand the obstacles which
we had to overcome, and by the manner of our overcoming them, which they now
appreciate, they are convinced that through it all our hearts were with them. They are
proud of their Masonry now. Contrast this with the opinion they held of it when they
believed that they had been forgotten and there had been those who had not neglected
to remind them of it and you will have some appreciation of the value of the mission.
However its work may have succeeded in measuring up to our own desires, we may
be sure that our soldier brethren now know why we did not get to France sooner, and
they know why we had to come as we did come, in the garb of another agency.
"The delivery of this message has cost the fraternity in the United States not more
than $15,000 expended overseas up to date; if the work is continued for a year, it will
cost us, under the very advantageous circumstances under which we now work, not to
exceed a total of perhaps double that amount. Is it not worth it ?"
THE LARGE LODGE QUESTION
BY BRO. A. G. PITTS. SECRETARY PALESTINE LODGE, MICHIGAN
IT is possible, though this might not be suspected, to treat of the question of large
lodges in a way to bring out some really illuminating points. I shall only indicate the
various heads of such a discussion.
1. THE WHY OF LARGE LODGES
It is noteworthy that they begin in and are usually confined to cities which have,
beside lodges, chapters, commanderies, a shrine, a grotto and a full complement of
Scottish Rite bodies. The exceptions are a few lodges which do not meet all this
competition but the most of it. The competition is a little less keen not much, because
if they have no shrine and no Scottish Rite still those bodies exist in near-by cities and
divide the interest and the energies of their members in only a slightly less degree. For
the rest those lodges have grown large in imitation or in rivalry of the large lodges of
the other class.
Large lodges in America are the result of the excess of Masonic bodies in America. If
a city lodge has 300 active workers in Masonry, 250 of them will be active chiefly in
Commandery, Shrine, Grotto, Scottish Rite or Chapter. Fifty active workers is hardly
too many for a lodge. To have that many the lodge needs 300 who are active in some
branch of Masonry. To have 300 who are at all active in any branch of Masonry she
must have at least 1 800 members on her roll. Ergo, the smallest number suitable for a
Masonic lodge in a large American city is 1800.
2. INACTIVE MEMBERS
How about the five-sixths of inactive members? One-sixth will be non-residents. One-
sixth will be men who by reason of lack of taste or of ability never became active and
never would have done so whether they had joined a large lodge or a small one. One-
third will be those who have been active but have ceased to be so, and, in the large
cities which we are considering, one- sixth will be men who never cared for the lodge
and never expected to, but who used the lodge only to get into the "higher" bodies.
It is proper to consider the wishes of these men. Which will they prefer: to belong to
the ideal small lodge or to belong to one which by reason of its size and its consequent
activities has a state -wide, perhaps a national, perhaps even an international
3. WHAT IS A SMALL LODGE
American Masons have no notion. I have never known a small lodge in any American
city. Those that have few members are in that situation because they are just out of the
Grand Master's hands. All have the intent and purpose of growing large. They are
already large lodges in intent and purpose, in heterogeneity, in point of view.
I can see great good in a really small lodge and great good in a really large lodge. I
can see no good in one betwixt and between. And, unfortunately, that is the situation
of nine-tenths of our city lodges. Nearly all the distinguished Masons who took part in
the symposium in the June issue of THE BUILDER speak of the virtue there is in the
close fellowship of small lodges. Have they stopped to think? There will be just as
many cliques and jealousies, just as many divergencies of taste and sympathy, in a
lodge of 100 members, as American lodges are constituted, as in one of 3,000. The
cliques and circles will be smaller, that is all, and consequently more injurious. The
man of education and of scholarly tastes and habits of mind will seek the society of
his kind. He may find them in the lodge of 3,000. He almost certainly will not in the
American lodge of 100 members.
This brings me back to my question, "What is a small lodge?" The answer is: It is a
lodge of men who have similar tastes and interests and habits of thought and who
come together for that reason. If a lodge is a cross-section of the community no one
member will take a genuine warm and abiding interest in every other member whether
the lodge has 100 or 3,000 members.
The Lodge Quatuor Coronati is the typical small lodge. I need not describe it. Years
ago I read of the organization of a lodge to be confined to the clergy connected with
St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Another genuine small lodge.
The demand is made that Grand Lodges shall legislate against large lodges. But the
large American lodges are the result of American Grand Lodge innovations. First, the
excess of Masonic bodies to which I have already referred and which has been
promoted by grand lodge legislators if not by grand lodge legislation. Second, by the
law, almost universal in America, that a man may belong to but one lodge. Do you
suppose that I, a member of the largest lodge in the world, would not also belong to
one of the smallest if I were allowed to do so? One that was organized on the basis of
a similarity of tastes and avocations (mark, not vocations) and intellectual interests.
An Englishman who devoted as much attention to Masonry as I have done would
belong to at least four lodges. One because it was his father's lodge and he was made
in it. A second because it was devoted to the study of Masonry. A third, because he
would meet there the men to whom he could give and from whom he could receive
the most useful ideas along his line of thought and activity. And so on. Nor in any one
would four- fifths of the members be running after "higher bodies," they being
practically non-existent in all parts of the British Empire except Canada which is
contaminated by her nearness to the United States.
Say as much as you like in praise of the British system of small lodges but don't talk
about small lodges for this country. The time is forever past for them in the United
A small lodge is one essentially small and that would always and in any event be
small because however broad a man may be his real intimates will always be few. A
small lodge in America is small only because it has not yet grown large. It will, with
its fifty members, already have educated men and illiterates, men that read books, men
that read magazines, men that read nothing but newspapers and men that read nothing
at all. They will all know one another well, say your writers. No doubt and that is the
reason why they will avoid one another and the lodge. Where do you find the dry rot,
the inactivity, the somnolence? Where does the situation arise where one circle will
blackball every one of a certain other circle so that no one can be elected and the
lodge is at a standstill? Invariably in the villages where there can be but one lodge,
and accordingly even that weak sort of selection cannot take effect which takes place
in any city where there are as many as half a dozen lodges.
The accepted answer to the famous question, "Is life worth living?" is: "It depends
upon the individual." That is also the answer to the question, "Is a large lodge
I confess I know of but one large lodge which has justified its existence. No doubt
there are others but I have not happened to know them and I know many of the other
kind. But if there is only one large lodge (and that the largest of all) which has worked
out the excuses and the reasons for its numbers, that is enough. It proves the
possibility of a solution. It kills all excuse for legislating against large numbers. Let
the other large lodges alone. They will leam.
A lodge of 3,000 members is without excuse or reason for existence if it is conducted
just as it was when it had 300 members. Three thousand members bring new problems
which must be solved. Especially they bring new possibilities which must be taken
I have been secretary of Palestine Lodge for 27 years and have known her intimately
when she had 200 members and when she had 3,200 and at every stage between.
Now I quote from the June "Fraternal Forum":
Brother Hamilton says: "It is a practically universal rule that the smaller the
membership the larger percentage of members attend the meetings."
Palestine Lodge, then, is the exception. She will have an attendance of 600 next
Friday. Two hundred take lunch together in the lodge house every day, not always the
same 200 by any means. Fifteen hundred people mostly members and their ladies will
take the annual evening boat ride together June 18, if the experience of past years is
any criterion. She is planning a dinner for next fall to honor her 500 returned soldiers
and she thinks it necessary to find a room where 2,000 can sit together and be served.
There are never 600 members in her lodge room at one time but she has learned that
presence in her house is the desideratum, not continuous presence in her lodge room.
From Bro. Street: "A better camaraderie will be obtained and preserved" (in the small
lodge). I defy him to produce a lodge (in the United States) where there is more
solidarity, more maternity or more intimacy than in Palestine.
"Where initiations are so numerous as they must be in large lodges little or no time is
left for the development of the social or study side of Masonry."
On the contrary in Palestine Lodge the social side is being developed every day and
for an average of 10 hours every day instead of a few minutes in the intervals of work
twice a month. How can you beat the social effect of having 200 take lunch together
every day and an average of 100 dining together every day?
My dear brother, if your lodge is large enough the social side will be developed while
the work is going on. Next Friday in Palestine Lodge at a certain time there will be
300 men listening to after- dinner speeches and music in Palestine's large dining
room, fifty more dining with ladies in the small dining rooms, fifty carrying on the
work in Palestine's lodge room, fifty more playing together in other parts of the house
cards, billiards, etc., fifty talking or reading in other parts of the house, many of them
in the ladies' drawing room in company with ladies and fifty more coming and going.
No one can fix his eyes upon his vest and figure out exactly how Palestine Lodge is
run. But the information is not hard to come at. Lacking the information, one need not
assume that she is run just like the lodge which meets twice a month. Palestine meets
formally twice a week but she keeps open house all the time every day from 1 1 a. m.
to 1 1 p. m.
The one guiding principle of Palestine Lodge is that a lodge of 3,000 must not be run
like one of 300. If you. try to imagine Palestine Lodge, as fast as pictures arise before
you of the ways of the lodge you know, discard them one by one. Palestine is
different. That is her justification. If she resembled in any particular the lodge she was
when she had 300 members that would condemn her.
"In every large lodge the proper caution in admitting members can not be observed."
Our jurisdiction is the city of Detroit, covering, perhaps 100 square miles. We find it
necessary to keep two card catalogues one of which is arranged by wards and districts
and streets. It is very hard for any man to find a decent place to live in Detroit where
he will not have a Palestine man on each side of him within two blocks. Those two
members will be on his committee. Would the situation be improved if we had 100
members, one to each square mile?
What a difference there always is between theory and experience. In fact we find it
easier to appoint suitable and neighboring committees as the lodge grows. From this
point of view 3,000 is the smallest number that can properly cover a city of the size of
Detroit. Nevertheless we are true to the principle to do nothing as we did when we
were 300 strong. I cannot stop on details but having a big house of our own we can
and do insist on applicants coming down there to be looked over before being balloted
"We have no time for addresses," etc., says Bro. Adams. I refer to what I have said
concerning after dinner programs. We have them twice a month and a notable speaker
each time. We can give any speaker an audience worthy of him.
Bro. Carson asks: "Can a member of such a lodge know all the others?" Of course not.
How did the idea ever arise that that is necessary? But I venture to say that there is not
a man in Palestine Lodge today who does not know more members of Palestine Lodge
than I knew a month before I was first elected secretary when she had 200 members
and I had been a member four years.
The way to get the members acquainted is to give them a beautiful big home where
they can and do eat together, play together, read together and talk together for twelve
hours every day, and six days every week. But you must have 3,000 members before
you can establish such a home. Palestine's home represents an investment of
"Give him the opportunity of spending a social hour with his friends." We give him
the opportunity seventy-two hours of every week.
Bro. Schoonover says the large lodge is negligent on funeral occasions. Our
attendance at funerals is entirely satisfactory if we are given time to send- notices and
not unbecoming in any case. We gathered twenty to go sixty miles to bury a brother
last month and got them all by telephone. But we have had to change our methods in
this matter as in every other. We bury a larger proportion of our dead than we did
when we had 300 members. Here is a text for a separate article but I must hasten
We confer 900 degrees a year and nobody sweats a hair. How can we do it? Another
article is called for. As in every other particular we have changed our ways since the
time when we had 300 members. But I must expressly deny that there has arisen any
tendency to slight or neglect the work in any particular.
We have not enough officers, and do not make as many past masters as we ought.
This is true but it is an argument for taking off restrictions instead of for putting on
new ones. We have invented half a dozen ways of making half a dozen past masters a
year but Grand Lodge will allow none of them.
Now it would take another article to tell about the advantages which Palestine Lodge
secures from her large numbers. It may be that she is the only one on earth that does
secure all these advantages. That is the fault of the individual lodges, not of the
Let it be once more stated and emphasized that there is no excuse for the existence of
a large lodge unless it secures the advantages which large numbers can give.
Let me simply catalogue a few of those advantages:
1 . The Palestine Lodge House, a cozy, economical club where lunch is served every
noon and dinner every night. It comprises a large dining room, two small dining
rooms, billiard rooms, card rooms, a reading room, ladies' drawing room, ladies'
sitting room, a ball room, a lodge room, etc. It is open every day except Sunday. The
lodge meets twice a week at 5 p. m. The members come to lodge from their work.
They meet their wives there and have dinner together. While the men are at lodge the
ladies entertain one another. Formerly they played bridge. During the war they did an
enormous amount of war relief work in the Lodge House. The dining room does a
business of $3,000 a month. From this can be estimated how many meals are sold.
Before the war there was a dancing party in the ballroom twice a month at least. And
yet they tell us that large lodges cannot cultivate the social side! I dare assert that
nothing less than a large lodge can properly cultivate social features.
The Palestine Lodge House represents an investment of about $185,000.00. There are
outstanding about $40,000.00 of bonds. They could easily be taken up within the next
three years. It is likely that they will not be, but when $40,000.00 is accumulated more
bonds will be issued and an addition built. Plans have been made for a building
50x100 feet and ten stories high. This, it is estimated, will cost about $250,000.00.
The lot is 100x130. Some day (possibly very soon,) it will all be covered with a new
building. At least two parties are negotiating with us now. one proposition is for a
hotel twenty-one stories high, 100x130 feet, of which the lodge would occupy the
floors from the third to the seventh inclusive
2. Prestige. See the last sentence. Anyone would be proud to be in partnership with
Palestine Lodge. This refers to Detroit. But Palestine Lodge has an international
reputation. It is not a dream that a Mason who was making a trip from New Zealand to
England so planned it that he could stop off to visit Palestine Lodge. On the other
hand your writers write about large lodges (including Palestine) knowing nothing and
caring less as to what they (Palestine) are really like.
3. The Palestine Bulletin, a twenty-page monthly which also has an international
reputation and which while primarily reporting the activities of Palestine Lodge has
frequently printed original articles equal to the best of Masonic literature anywhere.
4. Zeal and devotion. A hundred illustrations could be given. Few ever quit. An
average of ten a year are suspended and ten a year dimitted. That would be in the
same proportion as one of each a year for a lodge of 300 members. One of your wise
men said that in the large lodge members soon get tired and "resign." Of course he
knows. What does he mean ?
For many years the Palestine men in Chicago have maintained "The Palestine Club of
Chicago." The members take lunch together every Friday at Marshall Pield's store for
men. Where is your small lodge that an grip men like that?
5. The Palestine Directory. A book of 200 pages giving the name, number, business
address, residence address, telephone number, and date of membership of all the
members. Also arranged as to business. A Palestine man hardly dares buy anything
without consulting this business directory. Palestine is notorious or solidarity. It is
made a reproach to her.
6. The Palestine Button. Smaller lodges have Lodge buttons but not until you have
3,000 members are they worth while. Members make one another's acquaintance in
China by the fact that both wear the button.
7. Adequacy for any good work. We sent the tuberculosis sanitarium $400.00 the
other day. We raised thousands of dollars for war relief work. The Palestine Lodge
House Red Cross section was one of the best in the city. We were used as a
headquarters on the occasion of a recent big welcome to a returning regiment. We
spent $600.00 on Christmas boxes for our soldiers in France. We have published the
names and details of the service of our 500 soldiers in a thirty-page book. We are
looking after several oiphans and assisting several widows. Masonic homes would be
unnecessary if all lodges were like Palestine and, of course, home relief is better and
cheaper than institutional relief.
8. We can look after our members almost anywhere. We have twenty in Los Angeles,
forty in Chicago, twenty in Cleveland, twenty- five in New York, and so on. When a
non-resident member is sick or in double we notify members of his own lodge in his
own town to look after him.
9. Dignity. Hardly any one in Palestine Lodge fancies that the lodges exist only to
make men eligible to the "higher bodies." Indeed we have almost killed that idea in
Detroit. The newer generation of Masons do not even realize that such used to be the
feeling in Detroit as it is yet in most cities. Perhaps it is not worth noting but it is a
fact that every Mason that objects to large lodges is a higher degree man. Also that the
Scottish Rite bodies, the Shrine and the Grotto find profit in limiting the number of
their bodies and exaggerating their size. If these brethren would say frankly that their
preference for small lodges is due to the sentiment that they do not want the lodges to
equal in dignity and influence the Consistories and the Shrine their position would be
reasonable at least. A natural objection would be an improvement on those thus far
expressed which are all artificial and laboriously manufactured.
One of your writers speaks of the great success of the Shrine and makes that an
argument for small lodges. It is a wonder that he did not say that the success of the
Shrine is due to the small size of the temples. The one in Chicago, for example, has
not to exceed 15,000 members. But it is growing!
I stop solely out of regard for your space. What I have written is so composed that
there are joints which are not connected and which look like flaws. Let them be
pointed out by others. I am willing to come again.
If there be such a thing in America as a Masonic writer or a Masonic official who is
sincerely devoted to the good of Masonry (meaning the lodges), that man when he
knows Palestine Lodge will hail her plan and system as a new and useful invention,
the harbinger of a new era in American Masonry, the remedy for the worst faults of
— o —
THE HANDCLASP OF THE SOUL
We can never know what life is,
But we know that it is love,
In a world where so much strife is
That alone can merit prove.
There's no moral realm above it,
'Tis the qualifying plane,
Man is glorified to love it
'Tis his limit to attain.
Human Love, "head of the corner"
In the alchemy of man,
Is the real and chief adomer
Of all others in the plan,
Love of virtue, love of beauty,
Love of all things as a whole
In their glorious unity
Makes for quality of Soul.
There is not of earth, a mortal
That behind a creed can hide,
Love alone leads to the portal
There realities abide.
Love, the scandalized for ages
By negation's formal role
Waits to fold their tell-tale pages
In the handclasp of the soul.
Bro. L. B. Mitchell, Michigan.
ACACIA IN THE ARMY
BY BRO. G. A. KENDERDINE, IOWA
THE SCHOOL OF FIRE at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, probably brought together as
representative a body of college men among the students and officers as has ever been
assembled in the United States. Practically every educational institution was
represented, and during the early autumn of 1918 a Fraternity and College register was
established at the desk of the School of Fire Y.M.C.A., in the hope of uniting various
college and fraternity men, who were enlisted in, or on the staff of, or students in the
Artillery Training School. No effort was made to canvass the school for registration. A
small notice on the officers' bulletin board, and another in the "Y" was all the publicity
that was given the matter. The register lay on the desk under the notice of all who
desired to open it. From the appearance of its pages and from the comments of those
who found their fraternity brothers or graduates or students of the same colleges
through its pages, the register was well worth the little effort in its making.
106 colleges and universities were represented by 272 students registered, and 42
fraternities were represented by 296 men registered. The apparent discrepancy in the
figures is accounted for by the fact that a number of the fraternities being professional,
permitted duplicate membership.
Although by no means the largest of national fraternities numerically, the Acacia had
the largest number of men registered, there being 19, with a representation of 14
chapters. This data was largely secured through the efforts and pains of R. G. Buzzard,
2nd Lieutenant Signal Coips, an alumnus of Chicago Acacia. As soon as Brother
Buzzard had noted these names he saw each of the brothers and called an informal
meeting at the Y.W.C.A. Hostess House which was largely attended and another
meeting was arranged for a few days later in the nature of a six o'clock dinner, followed
by a theater party, which was truly an enjoyable occasion.
Most of the men present at the dinner were able to appear for the group photograph,
though one or two, as is usually the case, were detained by duty. It is a matter of
considerable pride and satisfaction to Acacians that so representative a gathering could
be assembled, and it speaks volumes for the fraternal is impulses as well as the calibre
of Acacia men. Each one of these men, with the exception of the writer, was either a
commissioned officer in the U. S. Army, or a student in the Aviation Coips, who was
later to obtain commission, and had therefore added to their threefold Acacia selection
still another mark of recognition.
A few days after the picture was taken the demobilization order scattered these men far
and wide, but the memory of the Fort Sill "Chapter" will not soon fade, and furnishes
one of the happiest episodes of these men's military experiences.
KEEPING HIM "FIT"
Our responsibilities to our wounded are not yet over. The Red Cross acts as the people's
intermediary. Debarkation hospitals in the large cities adjacent to ports are crowded to
capacity and base hospitals are continually increasing their facilities to care for the
wounded who come in with every ship.
One of the greatest needs that presents itself in hastening the recovery of these boys is
proper recreation. Deprived of the natural physical ability to seek relaxation they are
dependent for mental stimulation on the pleasures that are brought to them.
The Red Cross has planned out a program of social and physical recreation suited to the
needs of these recovering boys, and calculated to encourage that spirit of cheerfulness
which is so great a factor in their recovery.
Games and sports have been arranged for under the department of Military Relief,
through the Recreational Committees. These pleasures are suited to the individual needs
of every type of patient. They include film shows, high class vaudeville entertainments,
concerts, educational lectures and such games and sports as may be indulged in by
recovering patients. An important feature of this department is the Bureau of Musical
Activities, and many have been the donations of band instruments, music, and offers of
service from music houses, musicians and teachers, who are lending their help in
gratifying the desire not only to hear but to create good music that lies in the hearts of
our boys. One of the greatest aids to this service has been in the donation by different
teachers of a definite number of hours each week to provide instruction in the hospitals.
And so, to the question" Now that the war is done is the Red Cross work over?" we
answer "No, not only is it not over but what has been done is but a beginning." With
past experiences to build on and the future needs so plain to our sight, we point down
the long road ahead and say with hope, confidence and the joy of service, "the work of
the Red Cross goes on."
A CATHOLIC TREATISE ON MASONRY
PART II ORGANIZATION AND STATISTICS
THE characteristic feature of the organization of speculative Masonry is the Grand
Lodge system founded in 1717. Every regular Grand Lodge or Supreme Council in
the Scottish, or Grand Orient in the mixed system, constitutes a supreme independent
body with legislative, judicial, and executive powers. It is composed of the lodges or
inferior bodies of its jurisdiction or of their representatives regularly assembled and
the grand officers whom they elect. A duly constituted lodge exercises the same
powers but in a more restricted sphere. The indispensable officers of a lodge are the
Worshipful Master (French Venerable; German Meister von Stuhl), the Senior and
Junior Warden, and the Tiler. The master and the wardens are usually aided by two
deacons and two stewards for the ceremonial and convivial work and by a treasurer
and a secretary. Many lodges have a Chaplain for religious ceremonies and addresses.
The same officers in large numbers and with sounding titles (Most Worshipful Grand
Master, Sovereign Grand Commander, etc.) exist in the Grand Lodges. As the
expenses of the members are heavy, only wealthy persons can afford to join the
fraternity. The number of candidates is further restricted by prescriptions regarding
their moral, intellectual, social, and physical qualifications, and by a regulation which
requires unanimity of votes in secret balloting for their admission. Thus, contrary to
its pretended universality, Freemasonry appears to be a most exclusive society, the
more so as it is a secret society, closed off from the profane world of common
mortals. "Freemasonry," says the "Keystone" of Philadelphia (Chr., 1885, 1, 259), "has
no right to be popular. It is a secret society. It is for the few, not the many, for the
select, not for the masses." Practically, it is true, the prescriptions concerting the
intellectual and moral endowments are not rigourously obeyed. "Numbers are being
admitted . . . whose sole object is to make their membership a means for advancing
their pecuniary interest" (Chr., 1881, 1, 6). "There are a goodly number again, who
value Freemasonry solely for the convivial meetings attached to it." "Again I have
heard men say openly, that they had joined to gain introduction to a certain class of
individuals as a trading matter and that they were forced to do so because every one
did so. Then there is the great class who join it out of curiosity or perhaps, because
somebody in a position above them is a Mason." "Near akin to this is that class of
individuals who wish for congenial society" (Chr., 1884, II, 196). "In Masonry they
find the means of ready access to society, which is denied to them by social
conventionalities. They have wealth but neither by birth nor education are they
eligible for polite and fine intercourse." "The shop is never absent from their words
and deeds." "The Masonic body includes a large number of publicans" (Chr., 1885, 1,
259), etc., etc.
Of the Masonic rule brotherly love, relief, and truth certainly the two former,
especially as understood in the sense of mutual assistance in all the emergencies of
life, is for most of the candidates the principal reason for joining. This mutual
assistance, especially symbolized by the five points of fellowship and the "grand
hailing sign of distress" in the third degree, is one of the most fundamental
characteristics of Freemasonry. By his oath the Master Mason is pledged to maintain
and uphold the five points of fellowship in act as well as in words, i. e., to assist a
Master Mason on every occasion according to his ability, and particularly when he
makes the sign of distress. In Duncan, "American Ritual" (229), the Royal Arch-
Mason even swears: "I will assist a companion R. A.-Mason, when I see him engaged
in any difficulty and will espouse his cause so as to extricate him from the same
whether he be right or wrong." It is a fact attested by experienced men of all countries
that, wherever Masonry is influential, non-Masons have to suffer in their interests
from the systematical preferment which Masons give each other in appointment to
offices and employment. Even Bismarck (Gedanken und Erinnerungen, 1898, 1, 302
sq.) complained of the effects of such mutual Masonic assistance, which is detrimental
alike to civic equality and to public interests. In Masonic books and magazines
unlawful and treacherous acts, performed in rendering this mutual assistance, are
recommended and praised as a glory of Freemasonry. "The inexorable laws of war
themselves," says the official orator of the Grand Orient de France, Lefebvre
d'Aumale (Solstice, 24 June, 1841, Proces-verb., 62), "had to bend before
Freemasonry, which is perhaps the most striking proof of its power. A sign sufficed to
stop the slaughter; the combatants threw away their arms, embraced each other
fraternally and at once became friends and Brethren as their oaths prescribed," and the
"Handbuch," 3rd ed., II, 109, declares: "this sign has had beneficial effect, particularly
in times of war, where it often disarms the bitterest enemies, so that they listen to the
voice of humanity and give each other mutual assistance instead of killing each other"
(see also Freemason, Lond., 1901, 181; Clavel, 288 sqq.; Ragon, "Cours," 164;
Herold, 191, No. 10; "Handbuch," 2nd ed., II, 451 sqq.). Even the widely spread
suspicion, that justice is sometimes thwarted and Masonic criminals saved from due
punishment, cannot be deemed groundless. The said practice of mutual assistance is
so reprehensible that Masonic authors themselves (e. g., Krause, ibid., 2nd ed., I, 2,
429; Marbach, "Frei-maurer-Gelubde," 22-35) condemn it severely. "If," says Bro.
Marbach (23), "Freemasonry really could be an association and even a secret one of
men of the most different ranks of society, assisting and advancing each other, it
would be an iniquitous association, and the police would have no more urgent duty
than to exterminate it."
Another characteristic of Masonic law is that "treason" and "rebellion" against civil
authority are declared only political crimes, which affect the good standing of a
brother no more than heresy, and furnish no ground for a Masonic trial (Mackey,
"Jurisprudence," 509). The importance which Masonry attaches to this point is
manifest from the fact that it is set forth in the Article II of the "Old Charges," which
defines the duties of a Freemason with respect to the State and civil powers.
Compared with the corresponding injunction of the "Gothic" constitutions of
operative masonry, it is no less ambiguous than Article I concerning God and religion.
The old Gothic Constitutions candidly enjoined: "Also you shall be true liegemen to
the King without treason or falsehood and that you shall know no treason but you
mend it, if you may, or else warn the King or his council thereof' (Thorp, Ms., 1629,
A. Q. C., XI, 210; Rawlinson, Ms. 1900, A. Q. C., XI, 22; Hughan, "Old Charges").
The second article of modern speculative Freemasonry (1723) runs: "Of the civil
magistrates, supreme and subordinate. A Mason is a peaceable subject to the Civil
Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concerned in Plots and
Conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself
undutifully to inferior Magistrates; for as Masonry hath always been injured by War,
Bloodshed and Confusion so ancient Kings and Princes have been much disposed to
encourage the craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they
practically answer'd the Cavils of their adversaries and promoted the Honour of
Fraternity, who ever flourished in Times of Peace. So that if a Brother should be a
Rebel against the State, he is not to be countenanc'd in his Rebellion, however he may
be pitied as an unhappy man; and, if convicted of no other Crime, though the loyal
Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or
Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel
him from the Lodge and his Relation to it remains indefeasible."
Hence rebellion by modem speculative Masonry is only disapproved when plots are
directed against the peace and welfare of the nation. The brotherhood ought to disown
the rebellion, but only in order to preserve the fraternity from annoyance by the civil
authorities. A brother, then, guilty of rebellion cannot be expelled from the lodge; on
the contrary, his fellow Masons are particularly obliged to have pity on his misfortune
when he (in prison or before the courts) has to suffer from the consequences of his
rebellion, and give him brotherly assistance as far as they can. Freemasonry itself as a
body is very peaceable and loyal, but it does not disapprove; on the contrary, it
commends those brethren who through love of freedom and the national welfare
successfully plot against monarchs and other despotic rulers, while as an association
of public utility it claims privilege and protection through kings, princes, and other
high dignitaries for the success of its peaceful work. "Loyalty to freedom," says Chr.,
1875, 1, 81, "overrides all other considerations- The wisdom of this regulation,
remarks Mackey (Jurisprudence, 510, note 1), "will be apparent when we consider,
that if treason or rebellion were Masonic crimes, almost every Mason in the United
Colonies, in 1776, would have been subject to expulsion and every Lodge to a
forfeiture of its warrant by the G. LL. of England and Scotland, under whose
jurisdiction they were at the time."
A misleading adage is "once a Mason always a Mason." This is often taken to mean
that "the Masonic tie is indissoluble, that there is no absolution from its consequences
(Chr-, 1885, 1, 161) or "Obligations" (Chris 1889, II, 58), that not even death can
sever the connexion of a Mason with Freemasonry (Chr., 1883, II, 331)- But certainly
a Mason has the "right of demission (Mackey, "Jurisprudence," 232 sq.), and this
right, whatever be the opinion of Masonic jurisprudences according to the inalienable
natural rights of man, extends to a complete withdrawal not only from the lodge but
also from the brotherhood. In the scale of Masonic penalties, expulsion" is the most
severe (Mackeys op- cite 514 sqq- )- Besides those who have been expelled or have
resigned there are many "unaffiliated Masons who have ceased to be "active"
members of a lodge, but, according to Masonic law, which, of course, can oblige no
more than is authorized by the general rules of morality, they remain subject to the
lodge within the Jurisdiction of which they reside.
As to unity, Masonic authorities unanimously affirm that Freemasonry throughout the
world is one, and that all freemasons form in reality but one lodge; that distinct lodges
exist only for the sake of convenience, and that consequently every regular Mason is
entitled to be received in every regular lodge of the world as a brother, and, if in
distress, to be relieved. The good understanding among Masons of different countries
is furthered by personal intercourse and by correspondence, especially between the
grand secretary offices and international congresses (Paris, 1889; Antwerp, 1894;
Hague, 1896; Paris, 1900; Geneva, 1902; Brussels, 1904; Rome, intended for Oct.,
1911) which led to the establishment, in 1903, of a permanent international office at
Neuchatel, Switzerland (Chr., 1907, II, 1 19). There is no general Grand Fodge or
direction of Freemasonry, though various attempts have been made in nearly every
larger state or country to establish one. Incessant dissensions between Masonic
systems and bodies are characteristic of Freemasonry in all countries and times. But
the federative unity of Freemasonry suffices to prove a true solidarity among Masons
and Masonic bodies throughout the world; hence the charge of complicity in the
machinations which some of them carry on. This solidarity is openly avowed by
Masonic authorities. Pike, for instance, writes (Off. Bull., 1885, VII, 29): "When the
journal in London which speaks of the Freemasonry of the G. L. of England,
deprecatingly protested that the English Freemasonry was innocent of the charges
preferred by the Papal Bull (Encycl. 1884) against Freemasonry, when it declared that
English Freemasonry had no opinions political or religious, and that it did not in the
least degree sympathize with the loose opinions and extravagant utterances of part of
the Continental Freemasonry, it was very justly and very conclusively checkmated by
the Romish Organs with the reply, 'It is idle for you to protest. You are Freemasons
and you recognize them as Freemasons. You give them countenance, encouragement
and support and you are jointly responsible with them and cannot shirk that
As accurate statistics are not always to be had and the methods of enumeration differ
in different countries, total numbers can only be approximated. Thus in most of the
lodges of the United States only the Masters (third degree) are counted, while in other
countries the apprentices and fellows are added. There are besides many unaffiliated
Masons (having ceased to be members of a lodge) who are not included. Their
number may be estimated at two-thirds of that of the active Masons. In England a
Mason may act as member of many lodges. Confirming our statement as to the active
members of the strictly Masonic bodies, which in calendars and year books are
registered as such, we may, upon recent and reliable sources Mackey, "Encyclopedia,"
1908, 1007 sq.; "Annual of Universal Masonry," Beme, 1909; "Mas. Year Book
1909, " London; "Kalendar fur Freimaurer," Leipzig, 1909), estimate the actual state of
Freemasonry as follows: Grand O's, G. L's, Supr. Couns., and other Scottish G.
bodies, 183; lodges 26500; Masons, about 2,000,000; the number of the Grand
Chapters of Royal Arch is: in the United States, 2968 subordinate chapters, under one
General Grand Chapter; England, 46 Grand Chapters with 1015 subordinate chapters;
English colonies and foreign Masonic centres, 18 Grand Chapters with 150
subordinate chapters. The census of craft Masonry (1909) is as follows:
Countries Lodges Members Great Britain and Colonies (exe.
Canada) 4,670 262,651 Canada 727 60,728 United
States: White 12,916 1,203,159 Latin Countries (Europe and S.
120,000 Other European countries
INNER WORE OF FREEMASONRY: MASONIC SYMBOLISM AND OATHS
"From first to last," says Pike (I, 340), "Masonry is work." The Masonic "work,"
properly so-called, is the inner secret ritualistic work by which Masons are made and
educated for the outer work, consisting in action for the welfare of mankind according
to Masonic principles. Masons are made by the three ceremonies of initiation (first
degree), passing (second degree), and raising (third degree). The symbols displayed in
these ceremonies and explained according to the Masonic principles and to the verbal
hints given in the rituals and lectures of the three degrees, are the manual of Masonic
instruction. The education thus begun is completed by the whole lodge life, in which
every Mason is advised to take an active part, attending the lodge meetings regularly,
profiting, according to his ability, by the means which Masonry affords him, to perfect
himself in conformity with Masonic ideals, and contributing to the discussions of
Masonic themes and to a good lodge government, which is represented as a model of
the government of society at large. The lodge is to be a type of the world (Chr., 1890,
I, 99) and Masons are intended to take part in the regeneration of the human race
(Chr., 1900, II, 3). "The symbolism of Freemasonry," says Pike in a letter to Gould, 2
December, 1888 (A. Q. G., XVI, 28), "is the very soul of Masonry." And Boyd, the
Grand Orator of Missouri, confirms: "It is from the beginning to the end, symbol,
symbol, symbol" (Chr., 1902, 1, 167).
The principal advantages of this symbolism, which is not peculiar to Freemasonry but
refers to the mysteries and doctrines of all ages and of all factors of civilization, are
the following: (1) As it is adaptable to all possible opinions, doctrines, and tastes, it
attracts the candidates and fascinates the initiated. (2) It preserves the unsectarian
unity of Freemasonry in spite of profound differences in religion, race, national
feeling, and individual tendencies. (3) It sums up the theoretical and practical wisdom
of all ages and nations in a universally intelligible language. (4) It trains the Mason to
consider existing institutions, religious, political, and social, as passing phases of
human evolution and to discover by his own study the reforms to be realized in behalf
of Masonic progress, and the means to realize them. (5) It teaches him to see in
prevailing doctrines and dogmas merely subjective conceptions or changing symbols
of a deeper universal truth in the sense of Masonic ideals. (6) It allows Freemasonry to
conceal its real purposes from the profane and even from those among the initiated,
who are unable to appreciate those aims, as Masonry intends. "Masonry," says Pike,
"jealously conceals its secrets and intentionally leads conceited interpreters astray"
(, 105). "Part of the Symbols are displayed ....to the Initiated, but he is intentionally
misled by false interpretations ( , 819). "The initiated are few though many hear the
Thyrsus" (, 355). "The meaning of the Symbols is not unfolded at once. We give
you hints only in general. You must study out the recondite and mysterious meaning
for yourself' (, 128). "It is for each individual Mason to discover the secret of
Masonry by reflection on its symbols and a wise consideration of what is said and
done in the work" ( , 218). "The universal cry throughout the Masonic world," says
Mackey (Inner Sanctuary I, 3 1 1), "is for light; our lodges are henceforth to be schools,
our labour is to be study, our wages are to be learning; the types and symbols, the
myths and allegories of the institution are only beginning to be investigated with
reference to the ultimate meaning and Freemasons now thoroughly understand that
often quoted definition, that Masonry is a science of morality veiled in allegory and
illustrated by symbols."
Masonic symbols can be and are interpreted in different senses. By orthodox Anglican
ecclesiastics the whole symbolism of the Old and New Testament connected with the
symbolism of the Temple of Solomon was treated as Masonic symbolism and
Masonry as the "handmaid of religion" (Oliver, Hist. Landmarks, I, 128) which, -"in
almost every part of every degree refers distinctly and plainly to a crucified Saviour"
(Oliver, ibid., I, 146, 65; II, 7 sq.). Many Masonic authors in the Latin countries
(Clavel, Ragnon, etc.) and some of the principal Anglo-American authors (Pike,
Mackey, etc.) dedare, that Masonic symbolism in its original and proper meaning
refers above all to the solar and phallic worship of the ancient mysteries, especially
the Egyptian (Pike , 771 sq.). "It is in the antique symbols and their occult
meaning," says Pike ( , 397), "that the true secrets of Freemasonry consist. These
must reveal its nature and true purposes." In conformity with this rule of
interpretation, the letter G in the symbol of Glory (Blazing Star) or the Greek Gamma
(square), summing up all Masonry is very commonly explained as meaning
"generation"; the initial letter of the Tetragrammaton and the whole name is explained
as male or male- female principle (Pike , 698 sq., 751, 849; , IV, 342 sq.;
Mackey, "Symbolism," 112 sqq., 186 sqq.; see also Preuss, "American Freemasonry,"
175 sqq.). In the same sense according to the ancient interpretation are explained the
two pillars Boaz and Jachin; the Rosecroix (a cross with a rose in the centre); the point
within the circle; the "vesica piscis," the well-known sign for the Saviour; the triple
Tau; Sun and Moon; Hiram and Christ (Osiris); the coffin; the Middle Chamber and
even the Sancta Sanctorum, as adyta or most holy parts of each temple, usually
contained hideous objects of phallic worship (Mackey, "Dictionary," s. v. Phallus;
Oliver, "Signs," 206-17; V. Longo, La Mass. Specul.).
As Masons even in their official lectures and rituals, generally claim an Egyptian
origin for Masonic symbolism and a close "affinity" of "Masonic usages and customs
with those of the Ancient Egyptians" (Ritual, I [first] degree), such interpretations are
to be deemed officially authorized. Pike says, moreover, that "almost every one of the
ancient Masonic symbols" has "four distinct meanings, one as it were within the other,
the moral, political, philosophical and spiritual meaning" (Pike , 128). From the
political point of view Pike with many other Anglo-American Scotch Masons
interprets all Masonic symbolism in the sense of a systematic struggle against every
kind of political and religious "despotism." Hiram, Christ, Molay are regarded only as
representatives of "Humanity" the "Apostles of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" (Pike
, 141). The Cross (a double or quadruple square) is "no specific Christian symbol,"
"to all of us it is an emblem of Nature and of Eternal life; whether of them only let
each say for himself' (Pike, ibid., 100 sq.). The Cross X (Christ) was the Sign of the
Creative Wisdom or Logos, the Son of God. Mithraism signed its soldiers on the
forehead with a cross, etc. (, 291 sq.). I. N. R. L, the inscription of the Cross is,
Masonically read: "Igne Natura Renovatur Integra." The regeneration of nature by the
influence of the sun symbolizes the spiritual regeneration of mankind by the sacred
fire (truth and love) of Masonry, as a purely naturalistic institution (Pike , III, 81;
, 291; Ragon, 1. c., 7686). "The first assassin of Hiram is Royalty as the common
type of tyranny," striking "with its rule of iron at the throat of Hiram and making
freedom of speech treason." The second assassin is the Pontificate (Papacy) "aiming
the square of steel at the heart of the victim" (, I, 288 sq.). Christ dying on Calvary
is for Masonry "the greatest among the apostles of Humanity, braving Roman
despotism and the fanaticism and bigotry of the priesthood" (ibid., Ill, 142 sq.). Under
the symbol of the cross "the legions of freedom shall march to victory" (ibid., Ill,
The Kadosh (thirtieth degree), trampling on the papal tiara and the royal crown, is
destined to wreak a just vengeance on these "high criminals" for the murder of Molay
(ibid., IV, 474 sq.), and "as the apostle of truth and the rights of man" (ibid., IV, 478),
to deliver mankind "from the bondage of Despotism and the thraldom of spiritual
Tyranny" (ibid., IV, 476). "In most rituals of this degree everything breathes
vengeance" against religious and political "Despotism" (ibid., IV, 547). Thus Masonic
symbols are said to be "radiant of ideas, which should penetrate the soul of every
Mason and be clearly reflected in his character and conduct, till he become a pillar of
strength to the fraternity" ("Masonic Advocate" of Indianapolis, Chr., 1900, 1, 296).
"There is no iota of Masonic Ritual," adds the "Voice" of Chicago, "which is void of
significance" (Chr., 1897, II, 83). These interpretations, it is true, are not officially
adopted in Anglo-American craft rituals; but they appear fully authorized, though not
the only ones authorized even by its system and by the first two articles of the "Old
Charge" (1723), which contains the fundamental law of Freemasonry. As to the
unsectarian character of Masonry and its symbolism, Pike justly remarks: "Masonry
propagates ne creed, except its own most simple and sublime one taught by Nature
and Reason. There has never been a false Religion in the world. The permanent one
universal revelation is written in visible Nature and explained by the Reason and is
completed by the wise analogies of faith. There is but one true religion, one dogma,
one legitimate belief' (, I, 271). Consequently, also, the Bible as a Masonic
symbol, is to be interpreted as a symbol of the Book of Nature or the Code of human
reason and conscience, while Christian and other dogmas have for Freemasonry but
the import of changing symbols veiling the one permanent truth, of which Masonic
"Science" and "Arts" are a "progressive revelation," and application (ibid., I, 280; ,
It should be noted, that the great majority of Masons are far from being "initiated" and
"are grovelling in Egyptian darkness" (Chr., 1878, II, 28). "The Masonry of the higher
degrees," says Pike , I, 3 1 1), "teaches the great truths of intellectual science; but as
to these, even as to the rudiments and first principles, Blue Masonry is absolutely
dumb. Its dramas seem intended to teach the resurrection of the body." "The pretended
possession of mysterious secrets has enabled Blue Masonry to number its initiates by
tens of thousands. Never were any pretenses to the possession of mysterious
knowledge so baseless and so absurd as those of the Blue and Royal Arch Chapter
Degrees" (ibid., IV, 388 sq.). "The aping Christianity of Blue Masonry made it simply
an emasculated and impotent society with large and sounding pretenses and slender
performances. And yet its multitudes adhere to it, because initiation is a necessity for
the Human Soul; and because it instinctively longs for a union of the many under the
control of a single will, in things spiritual as well as in things temporal, for a
Hierarchy and a Monarch" (ibid., IV, 389 sq.). "It is for the Adept to understand the
meaning of the Symbols" (, 849); and Oliver declares: "Brethren, high in rank and
office, are often unacquainted with the elementary principles of the science" (Oliver,
"Theocratic Philosophy," 355). Masons "may be fifty years Masters of the Chair and
yet not learn the secret of the Brotherhood. This secret is, in its own nature,
invulnerable; for the Mason, to whom it has become known, can only have guessed it
and certainly not have received it from any one; he has discovered it, because he has
been in the lodge, marked, learned and inwardly digested. When he arrives at the
discovery, he unquestionably keeps it to himself, not communicating it even to his
most intimate Brother, because, should this person not have capability to discover it of
himself, he would likewise be wanting in the capability to use it, if he received it
verbally. For this reason it will forever remain a secret" (Oliver, Hist. Landmarks, I,
11,21; "Freemasons' Quarterly Rev.," I, 31; Casanova in Ragon, "Rit. 3rd Degree,"
In view of the fact that the secrets of Masonry are unknown to the bulk of Masons, the
oaths of secrecy taken on the Bible are all the more startling and unjustifiable. The
oath, for instance, of the first degree is as follows: "I, in the presence of the Great
Architect of the Universe, ... do hereby and hereon solomnly and sincerely swear,
that I will always hide, conceal and never reveal any part or parts, any point or points
of the secrets or mysteries of or belonging to Free and Accepted Masons in Masonry
which may heretofore have been known by, shall now or may at any future time be
communicated to me," etc. "These several points I solemnly swear to observe under
no less penalty, than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the root and
my body buried in the sands of the sea," "or the more efficient punishment of being
branded as a wilfully perjured individual, void of all moral worth." "So help me God,"
etc. Similar oaths, but with severer penalties attached, are taken in the advanced
degrees. The principal contents of the promises are according to Pike: eighteenth
degree: "I obligate and pledge myself always to sustain, that it belongs to Masonry to
teach the great unsectarian truths, that do not exclusively belong to any religion and
acknowledge that I have no right whatever to exact from others the acceptation of any
particular interpretation of Masonic symbols, that I may attribute to them by the virtue
of my personal belief. I obligate and solemnly pledge myself to respect and sustain by
all means and under any circumstances Liberty of Speech, Liberty of Thought and
Liberty of Conscience in religious and political matters" (Pike , III, 68). Thirtieth
Degree: A. "I solemnly and freely vow obedience to all my regular superiors.... I
pledge myself to be devoted, soul and body, to the protection of innocence, the
vindication of right, the crushing of oppression and the punishment of every infraction
against the law of Humanity and of Man's rights. . . never, either by interest or by fear,
or even to save my existence, to submit to nor suffer any material despotism, that may
enslave or oppress humanity by the usuipation or abuse of power. I vow never to
submit to or tolerate any intellectual Despotism, that may pretend to chain or fetter
free thought, etc." B. "I solemnly vow to consecrate my life to the ends of the Order of
Knights of Kadosh, and to co-operate most efficaciously by all means prescribed by
the constituted authorities of the order to attain them. I solemnly vow and consecrate,
to these ends, my words, my power, my strength, my influence, my intelligence and
my life. I vow to consider myself henceforward and forever as the Apostle of Truth
and of the rights of man." C. "I vow myself to the utmost to bring due punishment
upon the oppressors, the usuipers and the wicked; I pledge myself never to harm a
Knight Kadosh, either by word or deed . . .; I vow that if I find him as a foe in the
battlefield, I will save his life, when he makes me the Sign of Distress, and that I will
free him from prison and confinement upon land or water, even to the risk of my own
life or my own liberty. I pledge myself to vindicate right and truth even by might and
violence, if necessary and duly ordered by my regular superiors." D. "I pledge myself
to obey without hesitation any order whatever it may be of my regular Superiors in the
Order" (ibid., IV, 470, 488, 520).
OUTER WORK OF FREEMASONRY: ITS ACHIEVEMENTS PURPOSES AND
The outer work of Freemasonry, though uniform in its fundamental character and its
general lines, varies considerably in different countries and different Masonic
symbols. "Charitable" or "philanthropic" purposes are chiefly pursued by English,
German, and American Masonry, while practically at least, they are neglected by
Masons in the Latin countries, who are absorbed by political activity. But even in
England, where relatively the largest sums are spent for charitable purposes, Masonic
philanthropy does not seem to be inspired by very high ideals of generosity and
disinterestedness, at least with respect to the great mass of the brethren; the principal
contributions are made by a few very wealthy brethren and the rest by such as are
well-to-do. Moreover, in all countries it is almost exclusively Masons and their
families that profit by Masonic charity. Masonic beneficence towards the "profane"
world is little more than figurative, consisting in the propagation and application of
Masonic principles by which Masons pretend to promote the welfare of mankind; and
if Masons, particularly in Catholic countries, occasionally devote themselves to
charitable works as ordinarily understood, their aim is to gain sympathy and thereby
further their real puiposes. In North America, especially in the United States, a
characteristic feature of the outer work is the tendency toward display in the
construction of sumptuous Masonic "temples," in Masonic processions, at the laying
of cornerstones and the dedication of public buildings and even of Christian churches.
This tendency has frequently been rebuked by Masonic writers. "The Masonry of this
continent has gone mad after high degreeism and grand titleism. We tell the brethren,
that if they do not pay more attention to the pure, simple, beautiful symbolism of the
Lodge and less to the tinsel, furbelow, fuss and feathers of Scotch Ritism and
Templarism, the Craft will yet be shaken to its very foundations !" "Let the tocsin be
sounded" (Chr., 1880, II, 179). "Many Masons have passed through the ceremony
without any inspiration; but, in public parades of the Lodges (also in England) they
may generally be found in the front rank and at the Masonic banquets they can neither
be equalled nor excelled" (ibid., 1892, 1, 246). For similar criticism see Chr., 1880, II,
But the real object of both inner and outer work is the propagation and application of
the Masonic principles. The truly Masonic method is, that the lodge is the common
ground on which men of different religions and political opinions, provided they
accept the general Masonic principles, can meet; hence, it does not directly and
actively interfere with party politics, but excludes political and religious discussions
from the meetings, leaving each Mason to apply the principles to problems of the day.
But this method is openly disowned by contemporaneous Masonry in the Latin
countries and by many Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish
system, by the Grand Lodge of Hungary, the Grand Orient of Belgium, etc. It was and
is practically rejected also by German and even by American and English Masonry.
Thus American Masonic lodges, at least so leading Masonic authors openly claim, had
a preponderant part in the movement for independence, the lodges of the "Ancients"
in general promoting this movement and those of the "Modems" siding with Great
Britain (Gould, "Concise History" 419). According to the "Masonic Review"
Freemasonry was instmmental in forming the American Union (1776), claiming fifty-
two (Chr., 1893, 1, 147), or even fifty-five (Chr., 1906, 1, 202), out of the fifty-six of
the "signers of the Declaration of Independence as members of the Order." Other
Masonic periodicals, however, claim that only six of the signers ("New Age," May,
1910, 464), and only nine of the presidents of the United States avere Freemasons
("Acacia," II, 409). In the French Revolution (1789) and the later revolutionary
movements in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Central and South America, Masonic
bodies, it is claimed, took a more or less active part, as is stated by prominent
representatives of the Grand Fodges in the several countries and in many cases by
"profane" impartial historians (see Congres Intern, of Paris, 1889, in "Compte rendu
du Grand Orient de France," 1889; Browers, "F'action, etc."; Bmck, "Geh. Gesellsch,
in Spanien"; "Handbuch"; articles on the different countries, etc.). In Russia also
Freemasonry finally turned out to be a "political conspiracy" of Masonically
organized clubs that covered the land.
Even with regard to the most recent Turkish Revolution, it seems certain, that the
Young Turkish party, which made and directed the Revolution, was guided by
Masons, and that Masonry, especially the Grand Orients of Italy and France, had a
preponderant role in the Revolution (see "Rivista," 1909, 76 sqq.; 1908, 394;
"Acacia," 1908, II, 36; "Bauhutte," 1909, 143; "La Franc-Maconnerie demasquee,"
1909, 93-96; "Compte rendu du Convent, du Gr. Or. de France," 21-26 Sept., 1908,
34-38). In conducting this work Freemasonry propagates principles which, logically
developed, as shown above, are essentially revolutionary and serve as a basis for all
kinds of revolutionary movements. Directing Masons to find out for themselves
practical reforms in conformity with Masonic ideals and to work for their realization,
it fosters in its members and through them in society at large the spirit of innovation.
As an apparently harmless and even beneficent association, which in reality is,
through its secrecy and ambiguous symbolism, subject to the most different
influences, it furnishes in critical times a shelter for conspiracy, and even when its
lodges themselves are not transformed into conspiracy clubs, Masons are trained and
encouraged to found new associations for such purposes or to make use of existing
associations. Thus, Freemasonry in the eighteenth century, as a powerful ally of
infidelity, prepared the French Revolution. The alliance of Freemasonry with
philosophy was publicly sealed by the solemn initiation of Voltaire, the chief of these
philosophers, 7 February, 1778, and his reception of the Masonic garb from the
famous materialist Bro. Helvetius (Handbuch, 3rd ed., II, 517). Prior to the Revolution
various conspiratory societies arose in connexion with Freemasonry from which they
borrowed its forms and methods; Illuminati, clubs of Jacobins, etc. A relatively large
number of the leading revolutionists were members of Masonic lodges, trained by
lodge life for their political career. Even the programme of the Revolution expressed
in the "rights of man" was, as shown above, drawn from Masonic principles, and its
device: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" is the very device of Freemasonry. Similarly,
Freemasonry, together with the Carbonari, co-operated in the Italian revolutionary
movement of the nineteenth century. Nearly all the prominent leaders and among
them Massini and Garibaldi, are extolled by Masonry as its most distinguished
members. In Germany and Austria, Freemasonry during the eighteenth century was a
powerful ally of the so-called party of "Enlightenment" (Auflclaerung), and of
Josephinism; in the nineteenth century of the pseudo-Liberal and of the anti-clerical
In order to appreciate rightly the activity of Freemasonry in Germany, Sweden,
Denmark and England, and in France under the Napoleonic regime, the special
relations between Freemasonry and the reigning dynasties must not be overlooked. In
Germany two- thirds of the Masons are members of the old Prussian Grand Lodges
under the protectorship of a member of the Royal Dynasty, which implies a severe
control of all lodge activity in conformity with the aims of the Government. Hence
German Freemasons are scarcely capable of independent action. But they certainly
furthered the movement by which Prussia gradually became the leading state of
Germany, considered by them as the "representative and the protector of modem
evolution" against "Ultramontanism," "bigotry," and "Papal usurpations." They also
instigated the "Kulturkampf." The celebrated jurisconsult and Mason, Grandmaster
Bluntschli, was one of the foremost agitators in this conflict; he also stirred up the
Swiss "Kulturkampf." At his instigation the assembly of the "Federation of the
German Grand Lodges," in order to increase lodge activity in the sense of the
"Kulturkampf," declared, 24 May, 1874: "It is a professional duty for the lodges to see
to it, that the brethren become fully conscious of the relations of Freemasonry to the
sphere of ethical life and cultural purposes. Freemasons are obliged to put into effect
the principles of Freemasonry in practical life and to defend the ethical foundations of
human society, whensoever these are assailed. The Federation of the German Grand
Lodges will provide, that every year questions of actuality be proposed to all lodges
for discussion and uniform action" (Gruber , 6; Ewald, "Loge und Kulturkampf').
German Freemasons put forth untiring efforts to exert a decisive influence on the
whole life of the nation in keeping with Masonic principles, thus maintaining a
perpetual silent "Kulturkampf." The principal means which they employ are popular
libraries, conferences, the affiliation of kindred associations and institutions, the
creation, where necessary, of new institutions, through which the Masonic spirit
permeates the nation (see Herold, No. 37 and 33 sqq.). A similar activity is displayed
by the Austrian Freemasons.
(To be concluded)
— o —
THE COVERING OF MY SOUL
If I cut the covering of my soul from the clear blue sky
And pin it to the milky way for the coming by and by,
And charge the angel of my heart to bring it at my call
I can but trustingly go on to whatever may befall,
For I shall know that it will be myself reflected true
Because 'tis not of human hand or mortal ken review,
And that what' er it may reveal, 'twill all first handed be,-
The Nature covering, God's own, between Himself and me.
-Bro. L. B. Mitchell. Michisran.
Every human heart is human. Longfellow.
ON THE TRAINING OF A FATHER
BY DR. DAVID STARR JORDAN
Chancellor, Leland Stanford Junior University
Fathers are quite as hard to train as boys, and from experience all along the line, I
have come to the conclusion that fathers and boys alike will mostly go their own way,
in the long run getting "what is coming to them."
But it is in the power of the father to help a boy realize his best instead of his worst
tendencies and possibilities. To this end, a father should be sympathetic and patient,
helping the development of whatever natural taste or genius a boy may have. Virtue is
never negative and a boy is held from idleness or vice by giving him something better
to work at. If a boy has a real love for some study or for some worthy line of work,
encourage that. It marks the way out from temptation. A boy needs in his development
sympathy rather than financial help. His ideals need strengthening, not his purse. To
have money to bum will min all those who burn it. It is hard to raise a boy who is rich
and knows that whatever he wants is his for the asking. He is likely to be content with
what money can buy, and it cannot buy very much that is worth having. It can help in
many things, but a mere aid is not the thing itself.
The father can promote the plain virtues of sobriety, honesty, tolerance, and
kindliness. The most effective way of teaching these virtues is for him to illustrate
them in himself to show how righteousness looks when it is lived. Occasionally a
father successfully proves his point by becoming the awful example. But that is not
the best way, and right living can be most effectively taught, not by precept but by
practice. And remember always that right living is a positive thing. It is not secured by
inhibitions. "Don't, don't, don't" never leads to any thing worth while. Don't say to
boys: "Keep off the grass. Keep out of the dirt. Keep away from the slums." Rather
indicate places it is better to go to: "This way to citizenship; this way to science, to art,
to a worthy profession."
It is worth while to remember that the boy is the germ of what the man is to be. You
cannot change his nature much, but you can develop the best in him till it
overshadows the worst. The life of a man at forty will be what was in his heart at
twenty-one. And a father may say to his boys something like this, which in one way or
another I have said to thousands of boys in this and other countries:
"Your first duty in life is toward your afterself. So live that your afterself the man you
ought to be may in his time be possible and actual.
"Far away in the years he is waiting his turn. His body, his brain, his soul, are in your
boyish hands. He cannot help himself.
"What will you leave for him?
"Will it be a body unspoiled by lust or dissipation; a mind trained to think and act; a
nervous system true as a dial in its response to the truth about you? Will you, Boy, let
him come as a man among men in his time?
"Or will you throw away his inheritance before he has had the chance to touch it? Will
you turn over to him a brain distorted, a mind diseased; a will untrained to action; a
spinal cord grown through and through with the devil grass we call wild oats ?
"Will you let him come, taking your place, gaining through your experience, happy in
your friendships, hallowed through your joys, building on them his own?
"Or will you fling it all away, decreeing, wanton-like, that the man you might have
been shall never be?
"This is your problem in life the problem vastly more important to you than any or all
others. How will you meet it, as man or as a fool? It is your problem today and every
day, and the hour of your choice is the crisis in your history."
— o —
THE MASONIC RELIEF ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES AND
BY BRO. JOHN F. MASSEY, ACTING PRESIDENT, PENNSYLVANIA
THE purpose for which the Masonic Relief Association of the United States and
Canada was organized is two-fold in its nature. First, to facilitate the proper and
prompt distribution of Masonic Charity to the worthy in distress, and second, to
protect the Charity Fund against the unworthy of all classes who make claim upon it.
For a brief history of the association and its methods of operation the reader is
referred to the September, 1917, number of THE BUILDER. A few words here,
however, as to the history of Masonic Relief work will not be out of place. The origin
and the progressive development of this association, like that of all other permanent
institutions for the betterment of the human race, has followed the original and
continually increasing necessity. Every separate pledge in the Masonic obligation was
originally incorporated therein because of a necessity. Every Master Mason for
centuries past has been obligated to assist a worthy brother and his family in distress,
because they had the worthy poor and unfortunate with them. The obligation is
qualified and limited to the worthy applicants because they, too, had to deal with
imposters and the unworthy.
In Masonic Relief work we meet with two general classes of importers; namely,
profanes, who, never having been admitted to the order, yet endeavor to pass
themselves for regular Freemasons; and Masons, who, having been expelled or
suspended from the order, conceal the fact and still claim the privileges of members in
good standing. The first are easily detected; the latter, having once been invested with
proper instructions can stand the test of an examination and their true position must be
discovered only by information derived from the lodges which have suspended or
expelled them. The Tiler's Oath is intended to meet each of these cases but perjury
added to imposture will easily escape this test.
If it is the duty of one Mason to assist another, it naturally follows that every Mason
has the right to claim that assistance from his brother. It is this duty that the
obligations of Masonry are especially intended to enforce, and this right that they are
intended to sustain. The misuse and abuse of these privileges in all ages have made it
necessary to use not only precaution but co- operative organization against it.
We read in the early history of Masonry that the Masters thus charged their brethren:
"You are cautiously to examine a strange brother in such a method as prudence shall
direct you that you may not be imposed upon by an ignorant, false pretender, whom
you are to reject with contempt and derision; and beware of giving him any hints of
knowledge." We leam also in those ancient days that the impositions upon the Charity
of the order necessitated the organization of Relief Boards in the larger cities. They
consisted of representatives from all the lodges. The members of the Board by
frequent meetings and consultations were better enabled to distinguish the worthy
from the unworthy, and to detect attempts at imposition. Similar organizations under
different names were established by the Grand Lodge of England for the distribution
of the Fund of Benevolence. The Lodge of Benevolence was composed of all of the
present and past Grand officers, all acting Masters of lodges and twelve Past Masters.
There were many formalities to be complied with before the petition of an applicant
for assistance could be presented at their meetings.
We have in this, our present organization, a summing up of many years of experience
which have developed into the more improved and ready methods of extending
Masonic Charities. Through the instruments at hand the unworthy can easily be
detected and the worthy distressed quickly relieved.
Freemasonry is a human institution and its successes and failures have grown out of
the conduct of its members. It was instituted for the noble purpose of developing in
mankind the God-given blessing of a love for the mysterious unknown that love and
aspiration which tends to lift him out of a state of mental depravity and ignorance to
higher ground, and purer atmosphere of living and thinking. To attain unto these
heights demands the employment of all the leading Masonic virtues. The individual
member who possesses these virtues, made manifest in his life, is reckoned as a
contributing factor in its successes. The member whose life does not show forth such
an inheritance and is characterized by unwholesome living, is reckoned as
contributing to the failures of the institution. The majority of those who have brought
discredit upon our institution were not Masons at heart when received into the order.
It is this class which has proven themselves unworthy and have made the organization
of a Masonic Relief Association necessary.
At a very early period in his initiation, a candidate for the mysteries of Freemasonry is
informed that the Great Tenets of the order are brotherly love, relief, and truth. These
virtues are illustrated and their practice recommended to him at every step in his
progress; and his instruction, though continually varied in its mode, is so constantly
repeated as infallibly to impress upon his mind their absolute necessity in the
constitution of a good Mason. Every Mason is acquainted with the Five Points of
Fellowship. He knows their symbolic meaning. They are beautifully summed by
Oliver: "Assisting a brother in his distress, supporting him in his virtuous
undertakings, praying for his welfare, keeping inviolate his secrets, and vindicating
his reputation as well in his absence as in his presence." He can never forget the
interesting incidents which accompanied their explanation; and while he has this
knowledge and retains his remembrance, he can be at no loss to understand what are
his duties and what must be his conduct in relation to the principles of Brotherly Love
These impressive lessons in the early training of the young initiate are most lasting
and render him an easy victim to the shrewd but unworthy importers.
Charity as applied to Masonry is different from the usual accepted meaning. All true
Masons meet upon the same level regardless of wealth or station. In giving assistance
we strive to avoid the too common error of considering Charity only as that sentiment
of commiseration which leads us to assist the poor and unfortunate with pecuniary
donations. Its Masonic application is more noble and more extensive. We are taught
not only to relieve a brother's material wants, the cry of hunger, etc., but to fellowship
with him upon our own level, stripped of worldly titles and honors. When we thus
appeal to him, giving spiritual advice, lifting him up morally and spiritually with no
sense of humiliation to him, we set him free from his passion and wants. To such
charity there is a reciprocity rich in Brotherly Love and sincere appreciation.
Co-operating in this association are forty-six Grand Lodges in the United States and
Canada and many Boards of Relief in other Grand Jurisdictions. The organization,
however, will not be complete, neither in form nor in the work it seeks to accomplish,
until every organization of recognized Freemasonry, the world over, is in active co-
The recent sore trials and sufferings, common in a certain degree to all, the League of
Nations, and a Universal Peace, should develop a stronger Fraternal spirit among the
Nations, and strengthen a universal Brotherhood.
Following this great world disturbance in which many have been separated from their
families and permanent occupations, there will be for some time to come considerable
unrest and a possible increase in the number of applicants for assistance. No doubt a
large percentage of this increase will be due to the unworthiness of some who were
hurriedly received into the order because of the emergency. Let us, therefore, be
cautious but at the same time make good the boast of pride in our institution "That a
Mason, destitute and worthy, may find in every clime a brother, and in every land a
— o —
THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES AND RITES
BY BRO. DUDLEY WRIGHT, ASSISTANT EDITOR "THE FREEMASON."
THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES - THEIR MYSTICAL SIGNIFICANCE
LIFE, as we know it, was looked upon by the ancient philosophers as death. Plato
considered the body as the sepulchre of the soul and in the "Cratylus" acquiesces in
the doctrine of Orpheus that the soul is punished through its union with the body.
Empedocles, lamenting his connection with this corporeal world, pathetically
For this I weep, for this indulge my woe,
That ever my Oh such novel realms should know.
He also calls this material abode, or the realms of generation,
a joyless region,
Where slaughter, rage, and countless ills reside.
Philolaus, the celebrated Pythagorean, wrote:
The ancient theologists and priests testify that the soul is united with the body for the
sake of suffering punishment and that it is buried in the body as in a sepulchre
while Pythagoras himself said:
Whatever we see when awake is death, and when asleep a dream.
This is the truth intended to be expressed in the Mysteries. Pindar, speaking of the
Eleusinian Mysteries, says:
Blessed is he who on seeing those common concerns under the earth knows both the
end of life and the given end of Jupiter.
Psyche is said to have fallen asleep in Hades through rashly attempting to behold
coiporeal beauty and the truth intended to be taught by the Lesser Mysteries was that
prudent men who earnestly employed themselves in divine concerns were, above all
others, in a vigilant state and that imprudent men who pursued objects of a different
nature were asleep and only engaged in the delusions of dreams and if they happened
to die in this sleep before they were aroused they would be afflicted with similar, but
still sharper, visions in a future state.
Matter was regarded by the Egyptians as a certain mire or mud. They called matter the
dregs or sediment of the first life. Before the first purification the candidate for
initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries was smeared with clay or mire, which it was
the object of the purification to wash away. While the soul is in a state of servitude to
the body it lives confined as it were in bonds through the dominion of this Titanic life.
The Lesser Mysteries were intended to symbolize the condition of the soul while
subservient to the body and a liberation from this servitude, through purgative virtues,
was what the wisdom of the Ancients intended to signify by the descent into Hades
and the speedy return from those dark abodes. They were held to contain perfective
rites and appearances and the tradition of the sacred doctrines necessary to the
perfection or accomplishment of the most splendid visions. The perfective part, said
Proclus, precedes initiation, as initiation precedes inspection.
Dogmatic instruction was not included in the Mysteries: the doctrine of the
immortality of the soul traces its origin to sources anterior to the rise of the Mysteries.
At Eleusis the way was shown how to secure for the soul after death the best possible
fate. The miracle of regeneration rather than the eternity of being was taught.
Plato in the seventh book of the Republic says:
He who is not able by the exercise of his reason to define the idea of the good,
separating it from all other objects and piercing as in a battle through every kind of
argument; endeavouring to confute, not according to opinion hut according to
evidence, and proceeding with all these dialectical exercises with an unshaken reason
he who cannot accomplish this, would you not say that he neither knows the good
itself, nor anything which is properly demonstrated good? And would you not assert
that such a one when he apprehended it rather through the medium of opinion than of
science, that in the present life he is sunk in sleep and conversant with delusions and
dreams; and that before he is roused to a vigilant state he will descend to Hades, and
be overwhelmed with sleep perfectly profound?
Olympiodoras in this MS Commentary on the Gorgias of Plato says of the Elysian
It is necessary to know that the fortunate islands are said to be raised above the sea....
Hercules is reported to have accomplished his last labour in the Hesperian regions,
signifying by this that having vanquished an obscure and terrestrial life, he afterwards
lived in open day, that is, in truth and resplendent light. So that he who in the present
state vanquishes as much as possible a corporeal life, through the exercise of the
cathartic virtues, passes in reality into the fortunate islands at the soul, and lives
surrounded with the bright splendours of truth and wisdom proceeding from the sun of
The esoteric teaching was not, of course, grasped by all initiates: the majority merely
recognised or grasped the exoteric doctrine of a future state of rewards and
punishments. Virgil, in his description of the Mysteries in the Aeneid, confines
himself to the exoteric teaching. Aenas having passed over the Stygian lake meets
with the three-headed Celberus. By Cerberus must be understood the discriminative
part of the soul, of which a dog, on account of its sagacity, is an emblem. The three
heads signify the intellective, dianoetic, and doxastic powers. "He dragg'd the three
mouth'd dog to upper day," i. e., by temperance, continence, and other virtues he drew
upwards the various powers of the soul.
The fable of Persephone, as belonging to the Mysteries, was properly of a mixed
nature, composed of all four species of fables theological, physical, animistic, and
material. According to the arcana of ancient theology, the Coric order, i. e., that
belonging to Persephone, is two-fold, one part supermundane and the other mundane.
According to the rumour of theologists, who delivered to us the most holy Eleusinian
Mysteries, Persephone abides on high, in those dwellings of her mother which she
prepared for her in inaccessible places, exempt from the sensible world. But she
likewise dwells with Pluto, administering terrestrial concerns, governing the recesses
of the earth and imparting soul to beings which are of themselves inanimate and dead.
According to Nosselt the following may be taken as the meaning of the myth of
Demeter and her lost daughter:
Persephone, the daughter of the all-productive earth (Demeter) is the seed. The earth
rejoices at the sight of the plants and flowers, but they fade and wither, and the seed
disappears quickly from the face of the earth when it is strewn on the ground. The
dreaded monarch of the under world has taken possession of it. In vain the mother
Searches for her child, the whole face of nature mourns her loss, and everything
sorrows and grieves with her. But, secretly and unseen, the seed develops itself in the
lap of the earth, and at length it starts forth: what was dead is now alive; the earth, all
decked with fresh green, rejoices at the recovery of her long-lost daughter and
everything shares in the joy.
Demeter was worshipped in a two-fold sense by the Greeks as the foundress of
agriculture and as goddess of law and order. They used to celebrate yearly in her
honour the Thesmophoria, or Festival of Laws.
According to Taylor, the Plato nist, Demeter in the legend represents the evolution of
that self-inspective part of our nature which we properly determine intellect, and
Persephone that vital, self-moving, and animate part which we call soul. Pluto
signifies the whole of a material nature, and, according to Pythagoras, the empire of
this god commences downward from the Galaxy or Milky Way. Sallust says that
among the mundane divinities Ceres is the deity of the planet Saturn. The cavern
signifies the entrance into mundane life accomplished by the union of the soul with
this terrestrial body. Demeter, who was afraid lest some violence be offered to
Persephone on account of her inimitable beauty, conveyed her privately to Sicily and
concealed her in a house built on purpose by the Cyclops while she herself directs her
course to the temple of Cybele, the mother of the gods. Here we see the first cause of
the soul's descent, viz., her desertion of a life wholly according to intellect, occultly
signified by the separation of Persephone and Demeter. Afterwards Jupiter instructed
Venus to go and betray Persephone from her retirement that Pluto might be enabled to
carry her away, and, to prevent any suspicion in the virgin's mind, he commanded
Diana and Pallas to bear her company. The three goddesses on arrival found
Persephone at work on a scarf for her mother, on which she had embroidered the
primitive chaos and the formation of the world. Venus is significant of desire, which,
even in the celestial regions (for such is the residence of Persephone until she is
ravished by Pluto) begins silently and fraudulently to creep into the recesses of the
soul. Minerva is symbolical of the rational power of the soul; and Diana represents
nature, or the merely natural and vegetable part of our composition, both ensnared
through the allurements of desire.
In Ovid we have Narcissus, the metamorphosis of a youth who fell a victim to love of
his own corporeal form. The rape of Persephone, according to the Homeric Hymn to
Demeter, was the immediate consequence of her gathering this wonderful flower. By
Narcissus falling in love with his shadow in the limpid stream we behold a beautiful
representation of a soul, which, by vehemently gazing on the flowing condition of a
material body, becomes enamoured of a corporeal life and changed into a life
consisting wholly of the mere energies of nature. Pluto, forcing his passage through
the earth, seizes on Persephone and carries her away, despite the resistance of
Minerva and Diana, who are forbidden by Jupiter to attempt her deliverance. This
signifies that the lapse of the soul into a material nature is contrary to the genuine
wish and proper condition. Pluto, having hurried Persephone into the infernal regions,
marriage next succeeds. That is to say, the soul having sunk into the profoundities of a
material nature, there is the union with the dark tenement of the body. Night is with
great beauty and propriety introduced, standing by the nuptial couch and confirming
the oblivious league. That is to say, the soul, by union with a material body, becomes
familiar with darkness and subject to the empire of night, in consequence of which she
dwells wholly with delusive phantoms and till she breaks her fetters is deprived of the
perception of that which is real and true.
The nine days of the Festival are significant of the descent of the soul. The soul, in
falling Mom her original, divine abode in the heavens, passes through eight spheres,
viz., the inerratic sphere and the seven planets, assuming a different body and
employing different energies in each, and finally becomes connected with the
sublunary world and a terrene body on the ninth.
Demeter and the art of tillage signifies the descent of intellect into the realms of
generation and becomes the greatest benefit and ornament which a material nature is
capable of receiving: without the participation of intellect in the lower regions of
matter nothing but an irrational soul and a brutal life would subsist.
The teaching of the Mysteries was that virtue only could entitle men to happiness and
that rites, ceremonies, lustrations, and sacrifices would not supply the® want. Virgil
declares that the secret of the Mysteries was the unity of the Godhead. The Mysteries
declared that the after life was not necessarily or for all men the shadowy, weary
existence which it had hitherto been supposed to be, but that there were rites of
purification and sacrifices of a sacramental kind which gave man a better hope for the
future. Thus the Eleusinian Mysteries became the chief agent in the conversion of the
Greek world from the Homeric view of Hades to a more hopeful belief as to man's
state after death.
Pindar says, referring to the Mysteries:
Happy is he who has seen these things before leaving this world: he realises the
beginning and the end of life, as ordained by Zeus.
Oh, thrice blessed the mortals, who, having contemplated these Mysteries, have
descended to Hades; for those only will there be a future life of happiness the others
there will find nothing but suffering.
Isocrates, in his Panegyrics, says:
Demeter, who came to our country, bestowed on us two priceless gifts, the cultivation
of the fruits of the earth, which compelled us to leave our savage state; and the
ceremony which brings to the initiated the sweetest consolation at death and the hope
(To be continued )
BY BRO. LEWIS ALEXANDER MeCONNELL, COLORADO
No truth is taught, or thought expressed
Without comparison is made
In mental channels which invest
Each subject to the mind displayed
With similarity to things
Already measured by the mind,
And such comparison then brings
A fitting symbol thus outlined.
Acquaintance with the things we see,
By which much knowledge is secured,
Can only come in fair degree
By use of light to us assured;
Then vision's functions aptly serve
When light exists within its sphere;
A symbol then we thus observe
In moral light with knowledge clear.
We speak of light on subjects which
No tangible appearance hold
By thoughts or actions that enrich
Our minds as nature's truths unfold;
So light a symbol thus becomes
For truth and wisdom's lessons gained,
While by its glow, appear the sums
Of life's experience explained.
In vain the toiling builders strive
Before their plans with care are drawn,
And though the mind can well contrive
The structure to be labored on,
The keen activities of mind
Can scarce be held within the view
Without the use of plans designed
To form a perfect record true.
Then each drawn line displays a thought,
Each figure typifies desire
To imitate the object wrought
In the same form its lines require.
An object lesson to the mind,
A symbol true of mental plan
To which the builder's wish inclined;
The careful work of thoughtful man.
The trestle board of nature shows
A vast array of symbols rare,
While all her elements disclose
Unchanging truths designed with care,
Impressed more deeply in the heart
When craftsmen diligently strive
To gather from symbolic art
The truths that through its power survive.
THE FRATERNAL FORUM
EDITED BY BRO. GEORGE FRAZER, PRESIDENT, BOARD OF STEWARDS
Wildey E. Atchison, Iowa.
Geo. W. Baird, District of Columbia.
Joseph Barnett, California.
H. P. Burke, Colorado.
Joe L. Carson, Virginia.
R. M. C. Condon, Michigan.
John A. Davilla, Louisiana.
Jos; W. Eggleston, Virginia.
Henry R. Evans, District of Columbia.
H. D. Funk, Minnesota.
Asahall W. Gage. Florida.
Joseph C. Greenfield, Georgia.
Frederick W. Hamilton, Massachusetts.
H. L. Haywood, Iowa.
T. W. Hugo, Minnesota.
M. M. Johnson, Massachusetts.
P. E. Kellett, Manitoba.
John G. Keplinger, Illinois.
Harold A. Kingsbury, Connecticut.
Dr. Wm. F. Kuhn, Missouri.
Dr. G. Alfred Lawrence, New York.
Julius H. McCollum. Connecticut.
Dr. John Lewin McLeish, Ohio.
Joseph W. Norwood, Kentucky.
Frank E. Noyes, Wisconsin.
John Pickard, Missouri.
C. M. Sehenek, Colorado.
Francis W. Shepardson, Illinois.
Silas H. Shepherd, Wisconsin.
Oliver D. Street, Alabama.
Denman S. Wagstaff, California.
S. W. Williams. Tennessee.
Contributions to this Monthly Department of Personal Opinion are invited from each
writer who has contributed one or more articles to THE BUILDER. Subjects for
discussion are selected as being alive in the administration of Masonry today.
Discussions of polities, religious creeds or personal prejudices are avoided the
purpose of the Department being to afford a vehicle for comparing the personal
opinions of leading Masonic students- The contributing editors assume responsibility
only for what each writes over his own signature- Comment from our Members on the
Subjects discussed here will be welcomed on the question Box Department.
QUESTION NO. 13
"What is the real secret of Freemasonry? To what extent is it possible to tell it to a
profane? Brother Joseph Fort Newton says that the only thing secret about
Freemasonry is its method of teaching. Do you agree with him? How far may the
Masonic press go in public interpretation of the meaning of our symbolism, etc?"
No Secret at All.
The "secret" of Freemasonry is not secret at all. It is simply the moral and spiritual
ideals of the brotherhood which we endeavor to teach and to help each other to
practice. There was a time when such ideas and ideals as Masonry cherishes had to be
secret. They were under ban of the law, to say nothing of any mystic speculations
which may from time to time have been associated with Freemasonry or indulged in
under its cover.
It is not many centuries since any man convicted of holding ideas which are common
among Masons today concerning God and human relations to Him would have been
liable to be sent to the stake.
There are also embalmed in Freemasonry, like flies in amber, certain relics of the
primitive mode of thought whereby certain rules and formulas were held to have
compelling power over spirits both good and evil and even over the gods. There is
nothing more common among primitive people than this idea of a secret word with
vast and wonderful power. All that of course is of the past.
The "secrets" of Freemasonry are the methods of recognition and identification.
The "secret" is not the exclusive property of Freemasonry, is not in its fulness the
property of any Mason, and, I am sorry to say, is not to any great extent that of some
Masons whom 1 know.
The possibility of telling it to the profane depends entirely upon the mental and
spiritual capacity of the man who is trying to tell it and the man to whom he is trying
to tell it. It is of course "impossible" to communicate "secrets" of Freemasonry to the
profane, but I need hardly remark that it is entirely improper to do so.
You say, "Brother Joseph Fort Newton says that the only thing secret about
Freemasonry is its method of teaching. Do you agree with him ?"
I do not know whether I agree with him because I do not know what he means. If he
means; as I suspect he does, that the secret thing about-Freemasonry is its ritual I
agree with him, but it is hardly correct to define a method of teaching as a secret. As I
have just said the ritual is the means of identification. Teaching by ritual is in itself a
very common method and is neither "secret" nor exclusively Masonic.
In my judgment, the Masonic press would do well to let the matter of public
interpretation of Masonic symbolism entirely alone. I fancy, however, that this is a
counsel of perfection. So much has already been written on the subject that more or
less in addition will probably do more good than harm for the reason that it will
increase confusion. The subject has already involved endless discussion and more
would make it just a little bit more difficult for the profane to make anything out of it.
If we could have a Masonic press which was sacred to Masonic eyes, nothing could be
more desirable than a discussion of our symbolism. Nothing is more desirable than a
discussion of that symbolism before Masonic audiences. Unfortunately, however, the
Masonic press is to all intents and purposes as open to the public eye as any other
publication, one real question of the propriety of the discussion of Masonic symbols in
the Masonic press is now, after so much has already been written, a purely academic
Frederick W. Hamilton, Grand Secretary, Mass.
* * *
Secrets of Ancient Origin.
(1) My belief is that the "real secret" of Freemasonry was made public in the first
editions of works on architecture and of the holy Bible: this has been amplified by
recent translations of the more ancient hieroglyphs in Egypt.
(2) You ask "to what extent is it possible to tell it to a profane?" Assuming you mean
to what extent is it proper to tell it to a profane I would say it were better not to
discuss any of it with a profane.
(3)1 have not discovered that the method in common use in teaching Masonry dithers
from other methods. Masonry is not an occult science: not a science at all: it is a
system of morals: its purpose is, I believe, "to unite men of every nation, sect and
opinion," so it is not at liberty to assume the role of any particular sect.
(4) I cannot see that any harm may come from the Masonic Press publishing all or our
symbolism, but I would not like to see it made common by appearing in the daily
G. W. Baird, P.G.M., District of Columbia.
* * *
Favors Wide Opportunities for Students.
1. Freemasonry nowhere states that it has a particular secret. What transpires inside
the guarded door is secret, but not necessarily a secret. Where the word is used in the
singular form it is always as an adjective. The noun is always in the plural. The
symbol for it is in the Third degree; and the Symbolism is always kept before the
members in opening and closing the business meetings.
2. A great mass of information concerning Freemasonry can be found in any large
Encyclopedia. The only information Freemasonry itself should give to the profane is
that Freemasonry does not solicit candidates, and that it promises them absolutely
nothing except the opportunity to seek knowledge and so be of greater service in the
world of men.
3. 1 do not agree with brother Newton that our method of teaching is "the only thing
secret about Freemasonry." Our method of teaching is a universal method, practiced
by every teacher of whom there is any record; and, being such, it naturally commends
itself. Freemasonry keeps its ritual secret.
4. The inteipretation of our symbolism in the Masonic Press seems desirable, in so far
as it does not explain our ritual to the profane. Everything that will enlighten anyone
in moral, intellectual and spiritual knowledge is always good, even though the
uninitiated does not profit from it so much as the initiate does.
Joseph Barnett, California.
* * *
Stand Out in the Open.
It has aptly been said by some that the real secret of Freemasonry is that it has no
secret. In my opinion this is true so far as the philosophy and mission of the fraternity
is concerned. Its only secret is its method of teaching. The lessons taught in Masonic
ritual and symbolism were hoary with age centuries before Freemasonry, as we know
it, was bom. These lessons, all of them, either in whole or in part, are taught by every
existing institution we have that labors for the uplift and betterment of the individual
and of society in general.
It has always seemed to me that one of the weaknesses of freemasonry in the past has
been that it has enveloped itself too much in a veil of secrecy. Why should not profane
as well as Mason know what our aim and intent is ? There can be no secret about it if
the same thing is taught by so many other institutions, t seems to me that if it were
more widely known what we stand for, it would result in attracting a larger percentage
of the "thinkers" and the "doers" than we at present receive application from.
To my mind we have stood long enough in seclusion and the day is coming (and it
will be more imperative as the years go by) when institutions as well as men, will
have to stand out in the open, and stand for something, and declare what they stand
P. E. Kellett, P. G. M., Manitoba.
* * *
The Less Advertising the Better.
Prior to 1717 Masonry was a secret society. It put nothing of its doings on paper. Its
ritual, including methods of recognition in dark or light were transmitted, as was
profane history and tradition everywhere, from mouth to ear. The Scottish bards were
illustrations of the general system and we are indebted to Sir Walter Scott for a
knowledge of that fact. One or two lodges in Scotland seem to have been an exception
to the extreme secrecy of Masonry in the seventeenth century in that they kept
records. Today our obligatory secrecy seems to be confined to our ritual including
words of recognition. All that transpires behind a tiled door should be secret and
sacred but, unfortunately, it is not. To me the real secret of Masonry cannot be
expressed in words. It is the mysterious influence it has upon the relation of brother to
brother and man to his God. Some never feel it and are therefore never Masons even if
they become Grand Masters and thereafter wear the "customary" jewel. It could not be
told to a profane because words cannot describe or account for it. It is not merely "its
method of teaching." That is only an assertion of its existence.
As to "how far the Masonic press may go in public interpretation of the meaning of
our symbolism, etc.." I think the less far the better. We are not a mutual benefit
society as the public understands the term. We should not seek public favor, and
should smile at profane attack or even criticism. Our every effort should be to return
to the good old way. To cultivate brotherly love and use our secrecy to keep ourselves
"unspotted from the world." Monitors containing a part of our symbolism are a
mistake, and printed or even cipher rituals, are a crime. Parades in regalia are foolish
vanity. The less we advertise our institution save by living as its precepts teach us to
do, the more good we will do, and the more the profane world will revere our
organization, if indeed the latter be of any consequence whatever.
Jos. W. Eggleston, P. G. M., Virginia.
* * *
Our Duty is to Teach.
"How to be happy," is the real secret of Freemasonry-so simple and yet so profound!
I can only ask, what is the great object of Masonic research?
Is it not Truth? And is it not Truth that makes men Free? And who can be happy but
Then a knowledge of Truth is the secret or another way of expressing it.
But what is Truth ? The answer involves the study of a science we call Freemasonry
or Geometry or Morality or a number of other names, in order to comprehend it. To
comprehend is to be an apprehender or Apprentice. But to gain a knowledge of Truth
necessitates personal effort, work. Which is to say that such knowledge can only be
achieved by "living the life" of a Mason, or as we say, becoming a Fellow Craft. To
use this knowledge rightly is to be a Master in a literal sense. And mastership means
But in Masonry this mastership is one of self and perfect mastership is a knowledge of
self resulting from perfect self control, so that "self-control is another way of
expressing the "secret of Freemasonry.
"To what extent is it possible to tell it to the profane?" One may tell it all and be
thought a fool or a wise man according to his hearer. But if by this question is meant
to what extent is it possible to reveal or make plain this secret to the profane, I must
answer that experience and observation convinces me, only so far is it possible, as the
capacity of the profane will permit. One may explain the mysteries of integral calculus
to a fool and be thought a fool in turn.
I do not agree with Brother Joseph Fort Newton that the only thing secret about
Freemasonry is its method of teaching, if by this he means what he literally says. But I
think he means something different. I think he means that as an organization or school
of self-selected and volunteer teachers of humanity, we have made it a law that certain
arts, parts and points of this organized system of teaching, peculiar to our selves, be
not communicated to others. These arts, parts and points pertain solely to the methods
of recognition, the ceremonies and other mouth to ear communications, that would not
be comprehensible to others not initiated, or which would enable impostors to gain
admittance to the lodges and thereby cause inharmony. The reason for this is plain
when we consider that humanity is not all worthy and well-qualified, duly and truly
prepared to receive and understand our symbolic and allegorical short cuts to teaching
the science of Freemasonry.
But the science itself can be taught openly by all Masons in such language as adapted
to the understanding of those they teach. Indeed every Freemason is obligated to teach
if he understands Freemasonry.
Lastly, in my opinion, the Masonic Press not only may but in duty bound is obligated
to go just as far as its editors' and owners' knowledge permits, in publicly interpreting
"the meaning of our symbolism, etc." How else are we to carry out the great
educational work for humanity we have undertaken?
The plain truth is that too often Masonic officers are as ignorant of such things as new
born babes. Hence they cannot possibly teach others either within or without the
lodge! Who is to enlighten the members save the writers of books and the press? What
members are thus taught the public should know if the public can comprehend.
Joseph W. Norwood, Kentucky.
* * * A Plea for Constructive Censorship.
The real secret of Masonry is contained in a single word, which may mean all that a
man may conceive as being particularly applicable to his own individual, spiritual,
mental and physical case, defining without reserve, the duties he owes to country,
God, his neighbor and himself- When such a word has been in truth found by an
individual to entirely, adequately and unquestionably express for him and to him, this
sublime secret, which has the innate power to make him a real man and Mason, then
this individual should become very talkative, communicative ad lib. This secret, if it
be discovered in a state of sufficient positive inherence, to dignify it as a sort of
"spirit-control" or ever present guide, is the real secret of Masonry! Masonry has been
proven to be the secret of civilization" the guide ever-present as a unit of and by itself.
Masonry is the author of the process of assimilation of diverging generalities and a
final conclusion or result of much addition and much more subtraction carried on by
countless philosophers, who have in turn preceded and followed Christ and all other
humanized "perfections," man has touched in his gropings toward the Light. If we
could so demean ourselves, as to be able to speak by deed and act, as well as word,
the "science" of Masonry could be confidently taught from the "house tops" ! As
Christian Science had its birth in Masonry, so it seems to be going hand in hand with
us down "the line-" Sometimes there are extravagant claims made for it, but one can
always count on a "plus" product of man-fed enthusiasm, in connection with most
anything that "really works." All of this should be good for a "profane." I am not
exposing anything. I agree with Brother Newton, as far as the gist of the above written
paragraphs is concerned, but if taken in connection with ritualism, symbolism, signs,
etc., I believe the Masonic Press ought to be curbed generally. I believe "THE
BUILDER" to be also within "gun- shot." If writers can see nothing in i; all but a
repetition of the supposed and acknowledged secret work, they should cease to write
about "what they know about Masonry." Put a curb on explanations of "fancied
formulas," gifted "sooth-sayings," and indeed all the "speculation" indulged in, by
men who know as little about these subjects as far as they relate to our Masonry, as
should be permissible in discussion. A so-called "Doctor" Pottinger from Kansas or
some other "Sun- flower" State, published a "Sign" book a short time ago. I heard him
lecture on something he called "An interpretation of all the Masonic Signs and
Symbols." Ye gods! or in French "pour l'amour de Dieu" - let us be divorced forever
from such a "barnacle upon our body-politic" as it were. Let us keep the secret work,
as we call it, entirely secret. It should be easy to so keep it. Public discussion in the
Press, in books and by means of poorly censored lectures, does Masonry more harm
than otherwise. From another viewpoint I would suggest that it cheapens "what you
have to sell." What we expect for the secrets of our Masonry, is a commensurate
return in golden endowments of character. We do so want to sell our Masonry for as
much of "that" as we can get. If the time should come, when open forums would be
the proper place, when no lodge expense need be incurred, when much more of the
"divine" should take the place of our "humanly ordered" affairs, then come on with
your exposes, with your auctions of "ancient landmarks," with your surrender of
fortifications to the wolves, that are always howling about our stockades, waiting for
an opportunity to tear our flesh into sacrificial "bits," that the "Saints of the centuries"
may be fed. What Masonry needs is a unification of objects and aims, a universal
ritualism, a centralized control and a consequent standard of Masonic education. We
need a Supreme Ruler or Rulers here on earth. A council of councils presided over by
one of their number for the sake of intelligent dictum, who shall prescribe the bounds
of propriety Masonic, and fix the penalty for injudicious advertising. I believe the
remedy suggested to be a part of the answer I have made to the questions propounded.
Denman S. Wagstaff, P. M., Calif.
* * *
The "Masonic Press" is "Profane."
The real Secret of Freemasonry is truth and light, or which the candidate in each and
all of the degrees, in all the rites of Freemasonry, pursues his investigations while
passing through our various ceremonies.
The profane already knows this much, but the ceremonies by which he is led from one
degree to anther, the passing words, the signs, and the various methods of sound, sight
and touch by which he is enabled to unlock the doors of the many storehouses of
Masonic information, or make himself known to the Brotherhood, are ours to give
him if he proves himself worthy, and his to keep with an inviolable secrecy if we
repose this confidence in him.
Man from the earliest days has sought the truth, as one series of mysteries after
another proves to us, always under the cover of secrecy, because to vulgarize the
object of the search would naturally destroy the intensive struggle of the earnest
The profane has a right to know that the search for truth is the object of Freemasonry.
He knows where and when we meet, we publish the names of the officers and
members of our lodges and a lot more besides, when we have done all this he has no
right to demand more unless he is prepared to bind himself to us as we are to one
To my mind there is a mass of information given the profane that were better recorded
only in our minutes, the publication of the proceedings of our tyled communications
in the profane press should not be tolerated, at the same time a judicious and persistent
advertising of our public activities is good and useful propaganda.
After all the "Masonic Press" is the "Profane Press," there is nothing printed that is not
the property of the "wide, wide world" sooner or later, and we should govern
As to our symbolism, it has been the symbolism of all Mysteries, all religions, and all
peoples for all time - its interpretation is open to all mankind.
Joseph L. Carson, Virginia.
* * *
"Injudicious Discussion of Esoteric Subjects."
The real secrets of Freemasonry are truths which are vital to the development of man's
higher nature. In Freemasonry these truths are taught by a system peculiar to the
Fraternity, and even this method is partially esoteric. The method of teaching,
however, does not reveal to the student the truths which are vital he must apply the
method and study the meaning of the forms and ceremonies with the idea ever before
him that "Masonry consists of a course of ancient hieroglyphical and moral
instructions, taught according to ancient usage, by types, emblems and allegorical
To the student, who applies himself with freedom fervency and zeal, secrets of the
most vital import are revealed; not by a better informed brother, but through the study
of the symbolical teaching which is the peculiar characteristic of freemasonry.
Much has been written upon the subject of Masonic symbolism, and there is much
that will serve as a guide to the student; but he must progress of his own tree will and
interpret the symbolic teaching himself A Masonic sage said, "I should in fact only
follow the instructions of the ancient masters if I should say but part and leave the rest
unuttered, that each might discover it for himself. It was the old custom of Masonry,
like the nature goddess Isis, to lift only a corner of her veil; and she may boast; like
Isis, that for no man has she wholly raised the veil."
In studying the symbolism of Freemasonry to discover the valuable secrets it contains,
may we not set as our guide the rule that every symbol and allegory of Masonry which
has been handed down from the remote past, illustrates some moral or spiritual truth?
The ritual is the key to all the secrets of Masonry, but in itself is not a vital secret,
although it is partly esoteric. A man might know every form and ceremony of the
ritual and be in utter ignorance of the secrets of Masonry. High ideals and pure
motives are essential to the discovery of the vital secrets of Freemasonry.
It is impossible to tell the profane the secrets of Masonry, but it is possible and
advisable to inform the inquiring profane and prospective candidate that Masonry is a
system of morality which uses methods which are esoteric to furnish worthy men with
the key to profound and vital truths and that it will be useless for him to become a
member of the Fraternity unless he expects to diligently study the symbolical
teachings and improve himself mentally, morally and spiritually.
I do not agree with Joseph Fort Newton when he maintains that the only thing secret
about Freemasonry is its method of teaching. In reading the antimasonic literature we
are forcibly impressed with the erroneous deductions which a superficial knowledge
Extreme caution should be used in the discussion of the interpretation of the meaning
of Masonic symbolism by the Masonic press. While it is doubtful if anyone not
prepared with honest motives and who has the welfare of his fellowman at heart may
ever discover the secrets of Freemasonry, it is not advisable to open the way for
adverse criticism by the injudicious discussion of esoteric subjects.
Silas H. Shepherd, Chairman
Masonic Research Committee, Wisconsin.
* * *
What is Secret?
To give proper expression of my thought upon these questions and the avowment of
our Brother Newton it is necessary to determine the precise meaning of his statement
which, fortunately, is concise, and supposedly means:
"That the method of teaching esoteric Masonry by oral transmission, illustrated by
symbols, constitutes our secrets."
I cannot agree that the method of teaching either esoteric or exoteric Masonry is a
secret. I do not understand that the system is intended to be a secret. But I think the
thing, or things, thus orally taught are the secrets the method is to preserve them such.
Our Landmarks, (whatever they may be), our system of morality, our objective of
character building, our social and friendly intercourse, our Masonic equality, our
charity of thought and deed, our liberty of conscience, and our necessary belief in the
existence of Deity and all similar tenets and intentions are widely known, and
knowledge of them can be readily obtained by anyone frown printed works on
What, then, comprises the secrets that are taught only by word of mouth? To my mind
they are the modes of recognition. "The attentive ear receives the sound from the
instructive tongue and the mysteries of Freemasonry are safely lodged in the
repository of faithful breasts."
A survey of these mysteries discovers that each and every one is a method of
recognition. This is true even of the lessons of the legend, and of the legend itself, and
is also true of the obligations. Necessarily the greater part and most important of these
"modes" carry the germ of our system of "making men better," because they inculcate,
in a forcible way, our "Great Landmark," as it seems to me, "The Fatherhood of God
and the Brotherhood of Man."
If the knowledge of "One self-existing God" was ever the secret of any cult, and if
Masonry is in any way descended from such a society, that secret was disclosed by
God himself at Sinai, and Solomon afterwards published the knowledge to all the
world by erecting a Sacred Temple, not only for the Jews, but for all peoples, for the
worship of the One Eternal Self-existing God. Our belief in the immortality of the
soul is not a secret, but the lesson by which it is Masonically taught, being a mode of
In answer to question two, "To what extent is it possible to tell our secrets to a
profane?" I should answer that all modes of recognition whether simple grips or
words, ceremonies or esoteric symbols, the customs of Freemasonry, the peculiarities
of lodge organization and phraseology that are means of recognition should be orally
communicated only to Masons entitled to know the same.
To the last question I should answer that the Masonic press or any other press can
properly dilate upon, or explain, our symbolism and our purposes, except as above
The ethics of publishing Masonic matter is not now as strict as formerly was thought
incumbent, and, no doubt, the extreme reticence of former times was the means of
destruction to many valuable documents but there is a real danger at present in the
publication of Masonic subjects of a too great latitude being assumed as permissible.
To my mind a recent article in THE BUILDER was of this character.
"To speculate" originally meant to meditate upon, or to investigate, the properties of
sacred things. Therefore it is most appropriate that we work in speculative Masonry
and I take this opportunity to express my belief that original Masonry was of that type
and during the period when we were merged within the body of operative Masonry
my opinion is that our mysteries were an inheritance to them.
Our system of morality when rightly worked results in the upbuilding of character
under all conditions of peoples.
It is eminently proper to publish dissertations upon this or analogous subjects and
among these there are so few modes of recognition that practically the whole system
can be published.
The fact that we do not solicit membership is a proper matter for publication as well
as to discuss its benefits or disadvantages. But the reason why our would-be votaries
must make unsolicited application for our mysteries trenches upon a mode of
recognition and should only be spoken of between Masons.
By maintaining secret every mode of recognition the great principles of our Institution
are subserved and if no other end was attained except the charm through them of
recognizing a brother in public or private assemblages by casual or pointed advertance
to Masonic subjects, it would be sufficient justification for their preservation as our
Wm. F. Bowe, Georgia.
* * *
Tell What the Uninitiated Can Understand.
The real secret of Freemasonry, if there be one single dominating secret, is made up of
a combination of other secrets. Broadly speaking these are the methods of recognition,
the obligations and methods of administering them, the mode of conferring degrees,
the legend of the Third degree. This would include the catechisms of the various
lectures, words, grips, signs, etc. can we weld these into one and if so what is it? Let
us analyze Brother Newton's statement that it is the method of teaching. To begin with
we realize that our interpretation may be widely different from his. To us the method
of teaching consists of the impressing upon the mind wise and serious truths by the
employment of beautiful ceremonies and lectures. The ceremonies are such that the
candidate or neophyte is caused to be one of the principal characters and takes a
prominent part and as the action develops receives a deep impression that teaches him
a lesson, his very ignorance of the course the action is to take making the lesson vivid
and lasting. While we agree that our particular ceremony or ceremonies are secret yet
from information gained from reliable sources we find that other organizations use the
same method in principle. In discussing these subjects we must take the view-point of
a man who has taken the three degrees and no more. Some of us have gone a little
farther some the whole way, and it is often hard to eliminate from one's mind those
things learned later. Taking this view-point I cannot find anything to call the one
dominating secret that includes and covers all the secrets that are unfolded to the Blue
Let us now turn to the profane. We must here remember that many things spoken or
written are so clear to the initiated that it seems as though they shouted secrets. The
initiated subconsciously and unconsciously place the words in a different setting, read
over and under, before and after, words which are not there nor can the profane
imagine them. The hidden meaning in such passages is as clear as crystal to the
initiated, as clear as mud to the profane. There is much we can tell the profane without
breaking any oath to secrecy, the limit being the secrets as outlined above, but I can
conceive of no advantage gained in telling him what he cannot understand nor
appreciate, not having the connecting link. I do not approve of even approaching the
boundary in such things where there is absolutely nothing to be gained and such
remarks in the mouths of the unskilled initiated might do harm.
Masonic publications, on the other hand, are issued for the initiated; nearly if not quite
all who write are well enough read to be trusted to be skilful in their interpretation of
symbolism and in their arrangement of words. The writer does not have to say baldly
that this refers to the second section of the nth degree or that to the first section of
some other. He can say enough so that the initiate knows to what he refers without
mentioning the context in the ritual. As a test we must put ourselves in the place of the
profane by divesting our minds of all those things which we know from initiation and
then judge whether our words by themselves will reveal anything necessarily secret.
Julius H. McCollum, Connecticut.
* * *
Openly Propagate Principles.
It is as difficult to answer this question as it would be to explain what is the secret of
friendship, or love, or patriotism, or religion. Freemasonry has its secrets but they are
so elusive, so subtle that it is quite impossible to catch them in a net of words.
Moreover, it has many different kinds of secrets, symbolic, ceremonial, experiential,
mystical, etc., therefore it is quite difficult to select out of these what would be
considered as the secret, the real secret of the Craft.
Considering the matter by-and-large I believe that Dr. Newton's definition is very
near the truth. Almost every one of our symbols has been, or is, known to others:
much in our ritual was borrowed by our Masonic fathers from other secret societies:
many of our usages are being employed by other fraternities at the present day:
therefore it would seem that Masonry is distinguished from these others by the
manner in which it has assembled these elements, and by the way in which it brings
its truths home to the candidate: in other words, as Dr. Newton says, by its methods of
teaching. Masonry's method is all its own. The second and fourth articles in your
question may be answered together. Neither a Mason nor the Masonic press can be
suffered to tell anything that will reveal what is done or said in initiation else they
both violate the plain letter of the obligations: but the truths and principles embodied
in the ritual, or illustrated by its various parts, may be expounded ad lib, and so also
with the symbols, and with our "Masonic philosophy." THE BUILDER is expounding
the ritual from month to month. Albert Pike, and countless other Masonic writers,
have interpreted our symbols in hundreds of books and essays: Brother Roscoe Pound
has given us a book on Masonic philosophy: no sane Mason, so far as I know, has yet
taken offense at any of these. So far as I am personally concerned I should be pleased
to see the Craft more openly propagate its principles and its spirit: that could be done
without the slightest violation of the obligations.
H. L. Haywood, Iowa.
* * *
Secret to the Mason as Well.
The Real Secret of Freemasonry, as I understand it, is a "secret" only in that it is
something discovered only with difficulty: only to be found by patient study and
interpreting of the symbolism of Masonry. It is a knowledge of that type of true
religion applicable to the particular life-problem of each individual searcher. In the
nature of the case, it can not be told to the profane or to the Mason. Each must find it
for himself; it is not physically capable of being told. Though a Masonic philosopher
tell his interpretation of the symbolism, he can not tell the secret. For, as the student
gathers the ideas of his instructor, the student accepts them only with reservations and
variations, fitting them to his own particular life-problem. And lo! the secret that the
philosopher tried to tell has not been told: instead a new real secret of Freemasonry
has been conceived in the brain of the student, never to pass beyond it except as it is
manifested in good works and a true Masonic life.
Evidently, then, I do not agree with Brother Newton that the only thing secret in
Masonry is the method of teaching.
The Masonic press may and should "go to the limit" in public interpretation of
Masonic symbolism. What harm can it do? And it can do a vast amount of good.
Harold A. Kingsbury, Massachusetts
* * *
I heartily agree with Brother Joseph Fort Newton. Wm. F. Kuhn, P. G. M., Missouri.
* * *
A Spiritual Truth.
I believe the real secret of Freemasonry is a key to life eternal. As I view it humanity
ranges in an infinite number of degrees from the human brute up to the conscious sons
of God. Thousands of years ago the sons potentiality is inherent in each of us
developed a series of correspondences between the lower and the higher life which
they expressed in symbolism, astronomical, mathematical and geometrical. These
symbols formed the basis of the mystery teachings and were explained to those who
were lawfully entitled to receive them, you will remember that even the founder of the
Christian religion did not openly teach the truths concerning the kingdom. He taught
the multitudes in parables and later privately explained their meanings to his disciples.
A little thought and experience will show the reason for this. In our everyday life we
are very careful about revealing the truths of adult life to a child so in the life of the
spirit the ancient teachers found it not only unwise but unsafe to teach heavenly truths
to earthy men. The same holds true today.
I do not agree with Brother Newton in his statement that the only secret about
Freemasonry is its method of teaching. The whole body of Masonic knowledge is a
secret most heavily veiled from the profane as well as from the initiate and it is only
he who lives the life who shall understand the teaching.
The Masonic press should have considerable latitude in the public interpretation of
our symbolism. It will be a benefit to those who can grasp it and it will not be
understood by those who are not yet prepared to receive it.
John G. Keplinger, Illinois.
* * *
A Secret Personal to the Individual.
The real secret of Masonry? You would not believe me if I told you. We might agree
upon many points but Masonry whispers a personal secret to each individual. It is the
same that we read in the great book of Nature and revelation that our monitors speak
I know not if James Allen be a member of the Masonic fraternity but his writings
proclaim him a Mason in his heart. Those little books "As a Man Thinketh," "Out
from the Heart" and "Through the Gate of Good" set forth the experience of one who
has traveled from West to East and returning, is pointing the way to light and life, to
distressed brethren everywhere.
I am thoroughly in accord with Brother Newton that Masonry has no secret because
its teachings are all about us, upon every hand. We see them daily exemplified by
Mason and non-Mason and, sad to relate, trampled under foot, cast aside and made of
no account by those who have pledged their honor to observe them. No danger of
Masonry's secret being "discovered" or "revealed" when so many Masons perceive
them (those teachings) not. Tell them out. Publish them in the streets of Gath and
Askalon and in the highways and byways so that he who seeks a sensational
revelation in his initiation may say, "If that be the secret, I'll none of it"; and so those
duly and truly prepared may reverently seek more light and swell the membership.
Grips and passwords and "work," important as they are, do not make Masons.
The several articles I have contributed to THE BUILDER on "What an Entered
Apprentice Ought to Know," "What a Fellow Craft Ought to Know," and "What a
Master Mason Ought to Know," as far as they go, lay bare what to my mind is the
essence of the teachings of Masonry and all they conceal is the methods by which
those teachings are presented to the candidate. Hal Riviere, Georgia.
A System of Theology?
To my mind the real secret of Freemasonry is its doctrines of the existence of God and
the immortality of the soul. To the Masonic philosopher the universe is a symbol or
material expression of a divine unity, a Will transcending human comprehension,
which we call the Grand Architect of the Universe. We are rays from that Great Light,
individuated. Partaking of the divine life we are immortal; the grave is only an
incident in our career. But you will say, all this is known to the profane, consequently
it is not a secret. True, but there was a time when it was the grandest of secrets. In the
Mysteries, the prototypes of Masonry, the doctrine of the unity of duty was taught to
initiates of proved worth and intelligence. It was the esoteric instruction of the
hierophants, when the world outside the sanctum sanctorum was steeped in
polytheism, idolatry, and crass ignorance. Today the above doctrines are secrets to
materialists and atheists living on the sense plane only. To the casually minded the
things of the spirit are foolishness. If the materialistic philosophy advances,
Freemasonry will be the grand depository of doctrines that are esoteric in every sense
of the word. Any knowledge that is hidden from a man, because of the fact that his
apprehension of such is atrophied, is secret knowledge.
"Freemasonry," says Brother Frank C. Higgins (The Beginning of Masonry, New
York, 1916) ". . . is fundamentally and structurally a system of natural theology,
proving the existence and attributes of the one time God to the satisfaction of the
intellect, and so supplying a bulwark to faith unattainable by any other means. The
nature of this proof ... is founded on precisely the same assumption as the natural
theology of a Paley or a Brougham of our own era that evidence of design or intention
proves the presence of Mind, the wisdom, power, and beauty of which may be
inferred from the result." In the Fellow Craft degree, with its emphasis upon
geometry, is contained this revelation drawn from the Book of Nature, man's first
Bible. In the Master's degree is set forth the grand dogma of the Mysteries the
immortality of the soul. Those Continental systems of so-called Masonry which have
ignored or repudiated this philosophy of Deity have no real secrets.
In the old days of operative Masonry the days of the medieval cathedral builders the
real secret of the Craft was in all probability the forming of the pointed arch by means
of the Euclidean geometry; the evolving of the perfect triangle from the interlaced
circles (visica pisces), which the churchman of the period used as a symbol of the
birth of the logos, or Divine Word, the creative word that brought the universe into
being. When Masonry became speculative, the architectural and building secrets of
the ancient gilds were relegated to the background, and philosophical speculations
into the nature and attributes of Deity became the sine qua non of the Craft.
The means by which Masons know each other are secret so far as the profane are
concerned, but they do not constitute the grand secret, the real secret. Brother J. Fort
Newton declares that the only thing secret about Freemasonry is its method of
teaching. He is correct so far as he goes, but he does not go far enough.
So far as the public interpretation of the meaning of our symbolism is concerned, I
thi nk the Masonic press should have all the liberty it desires, so long as it does not
reveal the methods by which one brother knows another brother in the dark as well as
the light the esoteric part of the ritual. I am of the opinion that many of our symbols
and doctrines are borrowed from Rosicrucian and Cabalistic sciences, especially the
latter. Any light that can be thrown on this subject is of value.
Henry R. Evans. District of Columbia.
— o —
THE TRESTLE BOARD DESIGN
What's the design, my brother, pray,
Upon the Trestle Board today?
Your Temple building has begun
And each day's work from sun to sun
Should show in its design the plan
That means the building of a man, -
The building that interprets fine
The ideal Trestle Board design.
The Temple building you essay
Should grow in beauty by the way
E'en though it be a rugged road
And yours to bear a heavy load.
But wheresoe'er the way may lead
Or whatsoe'er may be your need,
The heart must everything refine
That's in the Trestle Board design.
And while there's none can build for you
It compensatingly is true
That none can your soul work destroy
Or take from it its keener joy.
And if its plan be bold and clear
As in the light it may appear,
Yet others may the soul divine
That's in your Trestle Board design.
And in the Temple building plan
That Masonry unfolds to man
The TRUTH, as it is understood, -
Real SERVICE and true Brotherhood, -
With CHARACTER is what supplies
The best that is beneath the skies.
And this will serve you to refine
The better Trestle Board design.
And there is in the mystic Art
So much that centers in the heart, -
So much that leads your loves away
To social cheer and rest and play
And yet, that traces in its plan
The larger way to build a man
That helps you so much to refine
Your special Trestle Board design.
And now my brother, tell me, pray
What are your thoughts of Masonry
As helping you to find the best
And leaving to your heart the rest
While ever pleading that you be
From every moral blemish free?
O, what can hold more that’s sublime
Than this, YOUR Trestle Board design?
- Bro. L. B. Mitchell, Michigan.
PEACE, AND THE NEW WAR
WHAT does the future hold for Freemasonry? It is perhaps better that we do not know.
The trial of our mettle is a test of our real strength. We cannot deny the fact that never
in the history of American Masonry were the threatening clouds of rancor and distrust
thicker upon the horizon than now. Never before were we more truly in a storm-tossed
world. Whether we will or no, we are in the very center of a very maelstrom of
uncertainty and political distress. If our duty in the world has not been plain in the past,
and it has not, then certainly it is worth careful study and meditation now. We must
come to understand it. We must realize it. In this we dare not fail. The conditions before
us cannot be laughed out of court. They must be faced.
The great war, which we hope has now won for the world a long era of peace, has
marked the final death of feudalism. That institution, which we had fondly believed to
be dead, has shown a surprising vigor. As we have since realized, it was the frenzied
strength of insanity. Yet it has decimated the youth of the world, and very nearly made
of civilization a chamel-house. That it did not succeed in its dream of autocratic and
despotic domination is due to the dimly realized but gradually awakening sense of
justice in mankind. Though it had power to hypnotize the central European powers, it
could not put to sleep the democratic ideals of the Anglo-Saxon. The future covenant of
nations will be written in the English tongue, and for us, as Americans, there can be but
one real fundamental peace. It will be the peace which the Anglo-Saxon shall guarantee
to the world, against all challengers whatsoever.
The real question as to the peace of the new world, then, is whether the Anglo-Saxons
of all nations will agree upon the duties and responsibilities which each of the countries
in which they live shall have in its preservation. That problem is still to be worked out.
Let us pray that it will be done. Let us be willing to sacrifice something of self-interest,
that it may be done.
There is another war at hand, the war of class hatred. It has overthrown the good, as
well as the bad, in Russia. It is founded upon the prime maxim of anarchy that the
individual has the right to live for self alone. What he wants must be his. Applied to
property it means communism - common ownership. Even women are property, and as
such, subject to the bestial whim of one man - or of all. Intellectual leadership is
scorned, and the intellectual head cut off. Primitive man again emerges from the caves
and bowels of the earth, defying civilization, announcing that by force of his brute
strength brawn is again to supplant brain.
Both necessity and duty will give Masonry a call to arms in this new and awful conflict.
Masonry claims to be an association for intellectual advancement. Its ancient
ceremonies reveal a time when men embodied in ritual the great truths of human
knowledge. Its very objects are to make men "wiser, better, and consequently happier."
Such an institution as ours finds no place in any Bolshevist program. Yet never was
there a greater need for it.
In common with every other nation and society, we must come to leam that the ideals
and the progress for which mankind has fought its way upward, step by step, are as
much at stake in this new war as they were when the Kaiser challenged the whole world
to defeat his ambition. No form of government except a democratic form of government
can hope to defeat this class hatred, now growing in every land. Every democratic form
of government will have to fight for its very existence. Shall Masonry support
democracy through to the end of the conflict? In a word, is Masonry prepared to
become a virile exponent and defender and preserver of true Americanism? As I see it
this is the issue which confronts us at this very hour, an issue which demands a firm
application of our ancient principle of human freedom governed, tempered, guided, and
controlled by order, system, and law.
If we are to build a truer Americanism in the United States it means that we as a people
must accustom ourselves to a new atmosphere of fairness, of equality, and of
brotherhood. "Hymns of hate" must be replaced by songs of love. The solving of the
problems which our civilization now faces must be done in this new spirit of
brotherhood. The League of Nations may be furthered by limitations of armaments and
the right of self-determination of peoples, but if a real peace shall endure, it must be
builded upon a league of brothers which must be formed, free from all taint of
Happily for us, this atmosphere of true brotherhood is no new atmosphere to the
Masonic fraternity. The old charges define Masonry as a living exemplification of the
men of the world dwelling together in unity as brethren. We must now find our place in
this new world with the lessons of old ringing in our ears. The value which we place
upon our heritage of principles will be revealed by the way in which we call upon our
Masonic leaders to join the vanguard of the upholders of true freedom for mankind. Our
definition of that freedom must be unmistakably an American definition. Those
landmarks which are real will be a guide upon our way, and will not restrict us. Our
ritual, too, will guide us. Our whole Masonic system is so closely akin to true
democracy that our task will be largely one of wise and sympathetic inteipretation.
If we but will, this wonderful Masonic system of ours may be made a real melting pot
of freedom. If we remain true to our traditions, it will be no crude, undirected process of
cohesion. Masonry has a formula for brotherhood. It rests upon the identical principles
which were written large into the constitution of the United States. It is a process by
which men come to realize those vital duties which must ever go hand in hand with all
true equality and freedom, it is a process of education. It is unique. It is sane. It is
trustworthy. It has a lasting value to the world, especially in these times of great
stress. But the use of the formula means work. It means finding leadership of the right
kind. It means a whole craft inspired by the steadfastness, faith, and zeal of
Zerubbabel of old. G.L.S.
— o —
THE QUESTION BOX
THE BUILDER is an open forum for free and fraternal discussion. Each of its
contributors writes under his own name, and is responsible for his own opinions.
Believing that a unity of spirit is better than a uniformity of opinion, the Research
Society, as such, does not champion any one school of Masonic thought as over against
another, but offers to all alike a medium for fellowship and instruction, leaving each to
stand or fall by its own merits.
The Question Box and Correspondence Column are open to all members of the Society
at all times. Questions of any nature on Masonic subjects are earnestly invited from our
members, particularly those connected with lodges or study clubs which are following
our "Bulletin Course of Masonic Study." When requested, questions will be answered
promptly by mail before publication in this department.
WHO KNOWS THE NAME OF THIS BOOK OR AUTHOR?
Can you inform me of the name of a book (and the writer) describing the voyage,
search, and finding of the gold for King Solomon's Temple? It follows the ships
through the Mediterranean Sea, around through the Atlantic to South America, etc.
We are unable to locate such a book. If any reader of THE BUILDER can help us in the
matter, please do so.
* * *
THE COUNCIL DEGREES CONFERRED IN ROYAL ARCH CHAPTERS IN
What degrees were conferred in Royal Arch Chapters in the State of Virginia during the
years 1898 to 1900, inclusive?
Are the degrees of Royal and Select Master and the Super-Excellent Master degree
under the jurisdiction of the Grand Chapter of Virginia, and are they conferred in Royal
Arch Chapters in that State?
In what order are the Chapter and Council degrees worked in Virginia? H.P., Ohio.
The degrees conferred in Royal Arch Chapters in Virginia during the years of 1898 to
1900, inclusive, were the Mark Master, Past Master, Royal Master, Select Master, Most
Excellent Master and the Royal Arch. These degrees are still conferred in the order
The degree of Super- Excellent Master is not worked in Virginia.
* * *
MASONRY IN CHILI
Are there any Masonic lodges in Chili besides those chartered by the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts? When was Freemasonry first introduced in that country?
Freemasonry was introduced into Chili in 1841 by the Grand Orient of France. The
Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and California organized lodges in that country in 1860
and 1851, but at the present time we find no Chili lodges on the California register.
There are three under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, located at
Conception, Santiago and Valparaiso.
The Grand Lodge of Chili, organized on May 24th, 1862, had at the last report (1917)
27 lodges on its roll comprising a total of 3,61 8 members. The Grand Lodge is
recognized by the Grand Lodges of Arkansas, Canada, District of Columbis Illinois,
Kansas, Maryland, Missouri and North Dakota.
* * *
INFORMATION WANTED CONCERNING THE ACACIA
Doubtless you will appreciate knowing that I possess a live specimen of Acacia vera, or
Toumefort, which I procured from Giza Mouderiel, Egypt. I have been for four years
trying to secure this specimen and received it about three weeks ago.
In the same length of time I have been endeavoring to compile a history of this tree but
find it quite difficult. Have you any information concerning it other than that published
in the November, 1918, number of THE BUILDER?
There is one thing which I beg to inquire if you can set me straight on - 1 find from
different sources that the "Shittah” wood was the Acacia vera and another authority
says it was the Acacia seyal. Do you know which is correct?
Upon investigation we also find authority for both “vera” and "seyal." Possibly some
member of the Society who has made a similar study may be able to throw some light
on the subject.
A NATIONAL MASONIC ORGANIZATION NEEDS
We have been greatly interested in the movement started in the right direction for a
National Masonic organization. After our service in France, all Masons in the Army are
in a position to appreciate our shortcomings and the crying need for such an
In this Regiment, the 3 16th Field Artillery, we organized a Masonic Club after the
declaration of the armistice, and have a healthy organization of eighty-six members
representing thirty- five jurisdictions.
When in command of the 3 15th Artillery at Camp Lee, Virginia, we organized a similar
Club under a charter granted by the Grand Lodge of Virginia, but our present Club is
without such a charter.
The Master Masons have felt, in the vast majority of cases, that they were neglected;
they saw nothing being done for them in a tangible way. When men are giving up all
they have - their lives - the buying of Liberty Bonds, savings stamps, or subscriptions to
welfare societies which were pooled, does not fill the want. The men felt that the great
Masonic Fraternity was backing them in words only, while they saw other societies
actually doing something for their comfort and welfare. The sick were not looked after
by the Masons, except in isolated cases, where Clubs had been formed, nor were the
dead cared for as they would have been had a general Masonic organization existed.
The men do not understand the Masonic understandings between jurisdictions, they do
not understand why all American Masons do not affiliate with all French Masons.
These differences are hard to explain to all and are unfortunate. They are surely not in
keeping with the Brotherhood of Man doctrine, or even a League of Nations.
The French Masons have made great sacrifices in this war and in every case that has
come to our knowledge have been willing to meet us more than half way, and do not
understand the position some of our American Grand Lodges have taken, a most
We believe that a National organization is absolutely essential; we cannot stand alone
as an unorganized body of many Grand Jurisdictions, and we trust that the failures of
this war will soon be corrected and that a permanent National organization will be
perfected and put on a real working basis.
Col. R. P. Reeder, Chairman
3 16th Field Artillery Masonic Club,
Oisseau le Petit, France.
* * *
MASONIC EDUCATION SPREADING
A number of brethren were dining together in this city not long ago when one brother
said: "The Korean revolution is a result of the introduction of Christianity. The Koreans
take the bible too literally." This immediately called forth the reply: "What would have
been the effect had Freemasonry operated there instead of Christianity?" The
suggestivenessof the query produced a hush, and the matter dropped, but the incident
set me to thinking.
As a body are not we Freemasons still largely only a collection of potentialities ? It
seems to be almost inevitable that the constant pressure of attention to detail should
crush out the spirit of study and inquiry. This is the reason I hail the National Masonic
Research Society, and yet something more than we are accomplishing must be done if
the ritual is to be kept subservient to independent thought. I have always flattered
myself that I was a student, but only a few days ago I was horrified to find, on looking
over my files of THE BUILDER, that I had become so absorbed in making Masons that
the Journal had remained unread for four months.
Constituted as we are radical, wholesale reform must come down to the bottom from
the top. I therefore write you to suggest that directly or indirectly, as circumstances
make it seem best, that our Grand Lodges should ensure by regulation, by allocution or
by other means that every Worshipful Master should, before taking his seat in the East,
give proof of a certain minimum acquaintance with the history, the philosophy and the
significance of the ritual he works. This might be accomplished by making every
candidate for the Master's chair pass a stated examination in a prescribed course in
Freemasonry, or by granting diplomas to any brother who takes the course, and only
allowing diplomaed brethren to approach the East.
A simpler course of study for which certificates could be issued might be required from
every newly-raised candidate as a warranty of good standing.
Surely such a proposal is not impossible, but it is possible only if the Grand Lodges will
take it up.
C. Spurgeon Medhurst, China.
(Were THE BUILDER to advocate the passing of such legislation as our brother in
China proposes we fear that we should be considered presumptions and our motives in
the matter might be questioned. However, the fact that hundreds of study clubs have
been organized, not only in the United States and Canada but in other countries, during
the past few years and that a system of organized Masonic study has been inaugurated
in a surprisingly large number of lodges, which number is being constantly added to,
leads us to believe that the study movement has become established on a firm
foundation and that the majority of future Masters will be better qualified in many
respects to dispense information among the Craft than many of their predecessors. That
education and enlightenment on Masonic subjects is gradually becoming an important
factor in Masonry of the present day is manifested by the great increase in the
membership of the Research Society and the appearance in the field of Masonic
literature of many new publications that are really worth while, as well as the
improvement of many Masonic periodicals that have been in circulation for some years.
* * *
A WASHINGTON BROTHER’S ENDORSEMENT OF THE MASONIC SERV1VE
George Lawler, Member Executive Commission M.S.A.,
Dear Brother Lawler:
Presumably through the kindness of Brother Schoonover, whom I had the pleasure of
meeting in Spokane a few years ago, I was sent a copy of the Proceedings of the Cedar
Rapids Masonic Conference shortly after publication. This conference was, in my
opinion, the first practical meeting of its kind. The entire subject is so replete with
possibilities, yet so simple in its operation, that one wonders why it was not thought of
It is not my intention to discuss the establishment of a Masonic Service Association in
the light of any alleged violation of "ancient landmarks," or from the puerile standpoint
of "what was good enough for my father is good enough for me." In spite of his
recantation, it has been demonstrated that Galileo's statement to the effect that the earth
moves is correct; and in a similar manner it has been proven that Masonry is a
progressive science, in spite of the attempts of earnest, but misguided individuals, to
hold it to the channels in which it flowed when the present form of Masonic
government was established. We only have to hearken back to the years following 1717
to realize that the brethren of those days looked upon Grand Lodges as distinct
innovations; yet, in spite of the opposition advanced, Grand Lodges have been
established wherever Masonry flourished, and it is only the student of Masonry who
knows that there was a time when this now established form of Masonic government
was an innovation. To such an extent has this doctrine been fostered upon the craft that
even our rituals and monitors conform to the new standard, and conspire to deceive the
newly admitted candidate to our mysteries. Glaring inaccuracies, not to use a stronger
term, are rife in our degree work, and these have even been strengthened by Masonic
historians whose zeal outstripped their reverence for that trait which should solely
inspire all historians: Accuracy.
"Masonry is a progressive science." I would like to see this phrase emblazoned upon the
walls of every temple, as an ever present reminder to consider its meaning. There would
be no violation of "ancient landmarks" if the first phrase were thoroughly understood.
Only such principles are ancient landmarks which alone preserve their integrity as the
physical form changes. Masonry is not dependent upon any particular form of
government and administration for its perpetuation, as this is only the physical vehicle
through which the soul of the institution expresses itself; but the physical form must
change with the needs of the spirit, or the spirit will depart, leaving behind only an
empty and resounding shell.
The eighteenth century; together with the greater part of the nineteenth, was an era of
analysis. The present century, with its introduction of the last decades of the nineteenth,
is the forerunner of a synthetic age. Instead of striving to ascertain wherein we differ,
we are striving today to see wherein we agree, and to leave the non-essentials out of the
discussion. The union of labor into organizations for mutual protection and benefit, the
combination of capital into syndicates for greater economic development, the
amalgamation of Protestant churches into larger bodies with common principles, the
proposed association of states and nations into a league for mutual benefit, all of these
prove my assertion that this is a synthetic and a constructive age. Those of us who are
not drunk at the feast with the perfumes and vapors of mutual admiration, the adoration
of sycophants, and the honeyed and sickening expressions of the secretly envious, can
read "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” upon the wall, and know that the Belshazzars of
this century are on the road to speedy destruction.
Like the votaries at the shrine of a pagan god, created out of inert matter by the
worshippers themselves our sensibilities are benumbed with the perfume exhaled from
the sensuous vapors eddying forth from before the idol. Until we develop a Moses in
our own midst to lead us forth from Misraim to the Promised Land, we must depend
upon rank outsiders to burst open the doors. It is distasteful, but nevertheless true, that
Mr. Fosdick's charge of "lack of co-ordination" is well grounded when considered from
the standpoint of nation-wide service. True we do work in harmony in a national crisis,
but it takes nothing less than a calamity, such as a flood or an earthquake, to produce
results. If we can organize upon a basis wherein no attention will be paid to petty
quarrels, such as the right of a lodge in one state to buiy a brother in another state, or
the question of perpetual jurisdiction of one state over a former applicant now residing
elsewhere, and can concentrate upon the larger questions of the day, then we shall make
progress in the right direction.
Not having attended previous Grand Masters' conferences, or having had an opportunity
of reading their minutes, I am not in a position to criticize or praise the discussions at
such conferences. As an observer, however, it would seem that nothing of great benefit
has resulted. Possibly trivial differences were adjusted in so far as they affected the
fraternity, but apparently nothing came out of the meetings which was of a distinct
humanitarian benefit. On the other hand, the Masonic Service Association which has
grown out of the Cedar Rapids conference has potentialities which we do not realize at
the present time, but which Association is the meeting ground for united Masonic effort
in the future.
It is immaterial to the average member of the Craft - and I consider myself an average
member - how Masonry accomplishes its results. I care not one whit if it is done by a
Central Grand Lodge or by a Service Association, and the recipients of the benefits
accruing from such organization care just about as little. If we can unite upon a plan of
action which will make Masonry a virile force in this world, one that exemplifies its
work in actual beneficial deeds, rather than in moral precepts, Masonry will be
perpetuated for future generations. But if we fail - as we have failed in the war, and are
failing now - the Craft will degenerate into a mere social appendage to our community
life, and will carry on a precarious existence by appealing to the curious only.
As I said in my address to the Grand Lodge last June, if we were to ask a representative
Mason just what Masonry had done for the world, he would be hard pressed for an
answer. Masonry today is living upon its past traditions, and as the light of Truth is
brought to bear upon these claims and traditions, we find many of them unsubstantiated.
The time has come for the Craft to take new measure of itself. The inventory shows a
list of two million names, the great majority of whom are clean cut, intelligent and
capable men. What defects of a moral character there may be are offset by the sterling
worth and integrity of over 99 per cent of the membership. We represent today 49
jurisdictions with as many leaders, and have our efficiency reduced in the same
proportion. While we are only two per cent of the entire population, the regard and
esteem in which Masonry and its leaders are held by the uninitiated, gives us a far
greater influence, and a project supported by the Masonic institution will carry with it a
support far in excess of our own two per cent. With the influence of our own
membership, and with the support of those who will follow our leadership, let us not
betray the confidence reposed in us. Let us take such action as will insure Masonry's
participation in the great problems looming upon the horizon, so that we shall be
unafraid, prepared and ready to throw ourselves in the struggle for equality and
righteousness now dawning upon this world.
The opportunity for the Grand Lodge of Washington to bring the Masonic Service
Association into permanent existence by being among the first fifteen to cast an
affirmative vote is past. Let us not fail, however, to add to the total which is now
accumulating and to at least be among those whose names shall be written upon the
Magna Charta of Masonic service. The Grand Lodge of Washington can honor the
Craft and itself by supporting the Masonic Service Association, and iff am present at
the next communication, I shall do all in my power to influence an affirmative vote.
Jacob Hugo Tatsch, Washington.
(Since the foregoing letter was written, the Grand Lodge of Washington has ratified the
Constitution of The Masonic Service Association and become a signatory membery of
that organization. - Editor.)
* * *
THE AUTHOR OF THE POEM "NOT UNDERSTOOD"
In the May number of THE BUILDER you publish five verses of a very striking poem
with which I am familiar, "Not Understood," which for many years has been a prime
favorite for public recitation throughout Australasia, the author being Thomas Bracken,
a well-known poet of New Zealand. This poem is contained in a volume of his verses
published by Gordon & Gotch, Wellington, N.Z. He also wrote the New Zealand
National Hymn. As you state "Author unknown," it occurs to me that you may be
interested to leam of his identity.
W. P. Caton, Virginia.
* * *
JOSEPH JEFFERSON’S POEM "IMMORTALITY" - A CORRECTION
In the June issue of THE BUILDER you published Joseph Jefferson's beautiful poem,
"Immortality," the last lines of which read:
"And so this emblem shall forever be
A sign of humility."
I desire to call attention to the substitution of the word "humility" for "immortality."
Many years ago I put this poem in my scrap book, and the last two lines are:
"And so this emblem shall forever be
A sign of immortality."
T. W Peace Tennessee
Nothing is less sincere than our mode of asking and giving advice. He who asks seems
to have deference for the opinion of his friend, while he only aims to get approval of his
own and make his friend responsible for his action. And he who gives repays the
confidence supposed to be placed in him by a seemingly disinterested zeal, while he
seldom means anything by his advice but his own interest or reputation. -
To be worth anything, character must be capable of standing firm upon its feet in the
world of daily work, temptation and trial; and able to bear the wear and tear of actual
life. Cloistered virtues do not count for much. - S. Smiles
A good intention clothes itself with sudden power. - Emerson.